30th March 2001 at 01:00
Joan Sallis Answers your questions

WE had an excellent chair. Our vice-chair was a pleasant and hard-working person too. We deliberately chose her as she complemented the chair very well and together they made a good team. The chair was a strong leader, confident and decisive, busy in his own job and therefore not too hot on the detail, but the vice-chair picked up what he dropped and supported him loyally with a lot of careful work. Now, quite unexpectedly, the chair has been posted abroad so the vice-chair has taken over. She would be the first to agree that it isn't her role. She is one of nature's back-room people and she is not comfortable with a lead role. Yet she feels that to resig would be some kind of betrayal or admission of failure. Should one always elect a vice-chair as a chair-in-waiting?

NO, not at all. You may if you want to, or you can do as you have done and select a pair who complement each other. The fact is that the vice-chair does not automatically inherit if the chair should resign mid-term. You have to re-elect at the earliest opportunity. You may elect the vice-chair if he or she is the most suitable, but there is nothing automatic about it, and as long as everyone understands the situation, there should be no embarrassment in leaving your excellent vice-chair in a role she is comfortable with, and replacing the chair with someone else.

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