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The days when a board chair’s primary role was to run board meetings are long gone. Today’s chairs must be fully immersed, extremely well-informed and strong leaders. They need to navigate an ever-increasing number of demands in drastically compressed timeframes - all under the lens of social media.

The demands on chairs are constantly increasing, from shaping inclusive and informed decision making, setting strategy, acting as an intermediary with the CEO, management and other stakeholders, and assessing the composition of the board to evaluating the performance of directors and holding them accountable for both their actions and inactions. As the stakes continue to rise, this course will equip chairs with the essential skills required to be an effective leader of the board.

Who Should Participate?

  • This course is for current board chairs, or near-term board chairs beginning their term in the next six to twelve months, of for-profit, large not-for-profit and Crown organizations who want to build, expand, or refine their abilities to successfully guide a robust, agile, and resilient board. This program is not intended for committee chairs, unless they meet the above criteria.

Key Benefits

  • After completing all components of the course, participants will:
    • Enhance board leadership effectiveness with new skills for building and cultivating productive relationships with the CEO, directors, and other stakeholders.
    • Influence strategy-setting and optimize organizational performance using proven value-added decision-making approaches.
    • Improve your ability to prepare for and facilitate highly engaging and effective board meetings with strategic agendas and future-focused presentations.
    • Build a better board with proactive plans for succession, composition, renewal and evaluation.
    • Engage with other board chairs in an interactive classroom environment to foster enhanced peer-to-peer learning.
    • Qualify for 14 CEUs toward the annual requirement to retain their ICD.D designation
    Participants will obtain the necessary skills, insights and competencies to effectively chair a board. Participants will also develop their capacity to effectively lead discussions to boost board effectiveness.


This program uses a blended online learning structure that weaves together best practices in adult education with opportunities to engage with peers.
  • It is comprised of four modules, the structure of each includes:
    1. Independent online learning (four to six hours per module)
    This is a critical component of the course (and includes an e-learning module, videos, readings, polls, discussion forums and more). It introduces key concepts and will prepare participants for effective participation in the live session and ensure they are ready to apply learnings from the course to their board work. The required independent learning should be completed prior to each live session. It is meant to be completed at a pace that works best for each participant.
    Participants will receive access to independent learning materials for Module 1 approximately two weeks prior to the instructor-led session. Access to independent learning materials for Modules 2, 3 and 4 will become available following the conclusion of the instructor-led session for the preceding Module.
    *Note: completion of some independent learning components may require a live internet connection.
    2. Live, instructor-led session (approximately three hours each)
    The four instructor-led online sessions, delivered 3-4 weeks apart, will focus on the application of concepts covered through independent learning.

    Attendance at the live sessions is required for successful course completion. The live session includes class discussions, breakout group discussions and exercises, Q & A with instructors and other experts, live interactive panel discussions and more.
    3. Supplemental resources and tools
    Participants will receive supplemental resources to augment the required components of their independent learning packages.
    4. Learning sustainment and engagement opportunities
    Following course completion, participants will be invited to join an Alumni Portal, becoming part of a community where they gain access to tools and resources to help apply course learnings in real-life settings. They will also have opportunities to engage in discussion forums with course peers to exchange questions, ideas and experiences and apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills.



    Participation in this module will equip chairs with the knowledge and frameworks to:
    • Optimize existing leadership skills and ability to successfully guide the board in fulfillment of its mandate.
    • Utilize their passion and commitment for the organization to set the distinctive vision and board culture.
    • Incorporate their own personality, values and unique voice to provide respectful leadership and to create positive collaborations.
    • Foster and maintain a constructive relationship with the CEO with appropriate information flows so they never catch each other off guard.
    • Build productive and constructive relationships, delineate responsibilities and establish trust with board directors, stakeholders, the corporate secretary and management teams.
    • Understand how rapid global developments are impacting the expectations of board chairs in Canada.

    Participation in this module will equip chairs with the knowledge and frameworks to:
    • Set a strategic agenda: Determine priorities and where the board should be spending its time.
    • Create the board package: Manage the appropriate flow of information to the board to enable it to make good decisions and to enable the organization to succeed.
    • Work with the CEO and committees to produce valuable, analytical and future-focused presentations with proposals and alternatives for board consideration.
    • Convene, conduct and facilitate meetings, including establishing meeting procedures and managing time to complete all items on the agenda.
    • Set up a fulsome, engaging conversation: what to do between board meetings.
    • Ensure all voices are heard at the boardroom table by motivating participants to provide their differing opinions, while making sure no one dominates the discussion.
    • Steer the conversation, provoke hard discussions and resolve disputes to reach decisions on key issues.

    Participation in this module will equip chairs with the knowledge and frameworks to:
    • Create processes and rules to assist the board in developing well-considered strategies such as scenario planning, strategic roadmaps.
    • Develop appropriate education for the board when embarking on new initiatives.
    • Mold an inclusive and positive culture to ensure effective collaboration and communication, engaging participants in ways that capitalizes on their strengths.
    • Oversee the formation of committees and their mandates, participate in meetings to gain insight into the board’s detailed operations.
    • Evaluate and comprehend the implications of each decision for stakeholders.
    • Know how to identify when is the right time to call for a decision.
    • Make the right decision in a crisis: strategies for “when things go wrong.”


    Participation in this module will equip chairs with the knowledge and frameworks to:
    • Ensure that the board has the right composition including diversity, human capital, competencies, independence, skills and collective knowledge.
    • Conduct director evaluations and providing constructive feedback to board members.
    • Hold directors accountable for their actions, manage underperforming directors and board dysfunction.
    • Take the board to the next level by continuously assessing needs and areas of improvement for the board and creating action plans to address these results.
    • Develop relevant education programs for the board collectively and for individual directors, working towards the pursuit of excellence.
    • Design proactive and comprehensive board succession and board renewal plans.
    • Solicit consistent evaluation of your performance as the board chair, to help you avoid complacency and mediocrity.

Course Offerings

  • City Course Application Deadline Module I Module II Module III Module IV
    Online CHR 008 January 16, 2024 February 6, 2024 March 5, 2024 April 9, 2024 May 7, 2024


Catherine R. Gryba, ICD.D Headshot
Ed Barrett Headshot
Anita Braha, B.A., M.A., LL.B, ICD.D Headshot
Brenda J. Eprile Headshot
Jean Paul (JP) Gladu, ICD.D Headshot
Catherine McLeod-Seltzer Headshot
Darren Rawson, P.Eng., ICD.D Headshot
Susan St. Amand, TEP, FEA, ICD.D Headshot