Stepping into the Role of Chair: Leading the Way in a Housing Association Board

The position of Chair on a housing association board is a critical leadership role that holds immense responsibility. As the chairperson, you will play a pivotal role in guiding the board, fostering effective governance and driving the strategic direction of the association. In this blog, I will explore the qualities, skills and challenges associated with being the Chair of a housing association board.

  1. Leadership and Vision: As the Chair, you must demonstrate strong leadership qualities and have a clear vision for the association. Inspiring and motivating board members, executive staff and stakeholders towards a common purpose is essential. A key element of this leadership is the ability to work effectively with the CEO and Executive Team.
  2. Experience and Expertise: Having a solid understanding of the housing sector and the associated challenges is important for a Chair. Extensive experience in governance, strategic planning, risk management and financial oversight will enable you to guide the board effectively. Your expertise will be instrumental in addressing complex issues, making informed decisions and ensuring the association’s long-term sustainability. But housing associations are looking outside the sector too, in order to get a different perspective and experience. This means potential chairs from outside social housing will need transferable skills and experience coupled with the commitment and ability to get up to speed on sector issues.
  3. Effective Board Engagement: The Chair plays a pivotal role in fostering a culture of collaboration and engagement within the board. Promoting open communication, active participation and constructive debates will help harness the collective expertise and insights of board members. Encouraging diversity of thought and valuing different perspectives will lead to more robust decision-making and effective governance. Critical to effective engagement is the ability to listen, engage and achieve consensus. There is certainly no space at the board room table for a chair who prefers the sound of their own voice.
  4. Relationship Building: Building strong relationships with stakeholders is essential for the success of a housing association. As the Chair, you will represent the association in various capacities, engaging with tenants, government officials, community organisations and funding providers. Cultivating positive relationships based on trust, transparency and effective communication will strengthen the association’s reputation and support its objectives.
  5. Advocacy and Influence: As the Chair, you have a unique opportunity to advocate for affordable housing, influence policy decisions and drive positive change in the broader housing sector. Leveraging your position to raise awareness about housing issues, engage with policymakers and collaborate with other organisations can have a profound impact on shaping housing policies and securing resources for the association.
  6. Managing Challenges: The role of Chair comes with its fair share of challenges. Balancing the interests of diverse stakeholders, managing conflicts and navigating complex regulatory environments can be demanding. However, with strong leadership skills, resilience and the ability to make tough decisions when necessary, you can overcome these challenges and steer the association towards success.
  7. Continuous Learning and Development: To excel as a Chair, you must commit to continuous learning and professional development. Staying updated with industry trends, emerging best practices and evolving regulations will enhance your knowledge base and ensure that the association remains adaptive and resilient in a changing social housing landscape. Seeking opportunities for personal growth, such as attending leadership courses or networking with other board chairs, will further strengthen your abilities.

Stepping into the role of Chair in a housing association board is a significant undertaking. With a clear vision, strong leadership, effective communication and a commitment to collaboration, you can guide the board towards achieving the association’s objectives. By advocating for affordable housing, building strong relationships and managing challenges with resilience, you can lead the way in creating positive change in the lives of tenants and local communities. As the Chair, your actions and decisions will shape the future of the association and its impact on the housing sector.

If you are interested in taking that next step to a Chair position, then please get in touch for an informal discussion.

Anne Elliot EMA Consultancy

Anne Elliott

Managing Director

01926 887272