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New programme for board chairmen launched in Aarhus

The role of the chairman of the board requires a particular focus. For this reason, Aarhus University’s business school is launching a programme specifically aimed at chairmen. The right thing to do, according to board networks, chairmen and recruitment experts.

2017.03.06 | Andreas G. Jensby

Aarhus BSS at Aarhus University is launching a new programme for chairmen. The programme consists of three intensive days in which all topics are treated from the perspective of the chairman and are based on the chairman’s personality profile.

“The chairman is crucial to the value creation of the board. He or she must ensure that the board focuses on the right topics and makes the most of its time, but also that the board works well internally and has a constructive dialogue with the management team and the owners. If the board is not a dynamic team, no value is created. The professional skills are not in themselves sufficient. Being a chairman is a unique discipline which has a lot to do with leadership and personality. That’s why we are now offering a programme that sees everything from the perspective of the chairman.”

These are the words of Professor Mette Neville, who is responsible for the new programme together with Honorary Professor and lawyer at Kromann-Reumert Carsten Fode.

Stepping stone for experienced board members

At the executive search company TRANSEARCH, which deals with the recruitment of executives for companies and boards, CEO and partner Henrik Brabrand believes that the new programme falls perfectly in line with the trends currently seen in connection with boards. For better or worse.

“The responsibility for adapting and adding new skills to the board weighs heavily on the chairmen. They must be able to look ahead and be strategic, gather the right team and engage in some difficult discussions. At the same time, the proliferation of board insurances has led to an American state of affairs where you can easily find yourself facing a lawsuit if you have acted incorrectly. The chairman must be able to handle this new situation and the new responsibility,” he explains.

In terms of recruitment, he also believes that the new programme holds possibilities.

“Through our dialogues with experienced board members, we’ve learnt that many members are considering the role of chairman. I think that the new programme could become a good springboard for those who see a chairmanship as the next step.”

Chairmen must develop in tandem with the world

Claus Astrup-Larsen is chairman of Denmark’s largest board network ASNET Board and has also been the chairman of several boards. He welcomes the new programme.

“The success of a board is increasingly dependent on having a chairman who is visionary and who knows that the world is constantly changing and that you need to develop your competences to keep up. It’s the same in the world of sports where professionals are constantly honing their skills. That’s why they get results,” he says.

ASNET carefully selects which board programmes to recommend to its members. According to Claus Astrup-Larsen, just three or four programmes in Denmark meet the requirements. To him, it means a great deal that the programme is offered by a university.

“We are very concerned with the quality and the providers of these programmes so that only skilled board members reach the companies. It’s a paradox that - apart from in the financial sector - you can sit on a board without having any documented qualifications. You have the potential for doing great harm, but if you need to change a socket in your house, it takes a certified electrician,” he says.

Even the best chairmen are challenged by the development

For several years, Aarhus BSS has offered a board member programme with a focus on SMEs. This programme has shed light on the vital role of the chairman, explains Carsten Fode, who is the chairman of several boards in the SME segment in addition to ARoS Aarhus Art Museum. He is also co-responsible for the new programme for chairmen.

“Even great chairmen can have blind spots or be caught of guard by the digital development which is currently sweeping the world.  We often hear stories about that. As a chairman, you thus need to constantly update your skills and your visionary outlook,” says Carsten Fode.


Facts: What does the programme for chairmen comprise?

The new programme for chairmen is targeted at current and future chairmen of unlisted companies. Among other things, the programme focuses on:

  • The chairman as a leader. This includes the personal profile of the chairman, the psychological mechanisms in the board room, the prerequisites for the board functioning as a team, how the chairman gets the best our of the individual members, the interaction with the management team and the owners, the chairman’s role in conflicts - both on the board and amongst the owners, etc. The programme also sheds light on the external role of the chairman in connection with e.g. the bank or in connection with crises management or dealing with the press.
  • The composition of the board. This includes the composition of relevant competences, both personal and professional, and the recruitment of new members.
  • The chairman as the creator of an effective board.  This includes the establishment of an annual cycle, rules of procedure, preparation and a dynamic agenda which engages and involves the entire board.
  • Evaluating the board. Why and how do you evaluate the board work, what tools can you apply, and how does the chairman follow up on the evaluation?


Read more about the new programme for chairmen at

Aarhus BSS