[gnso-rpm-wg] More information about the role, expectations and skills required of WG Chair(s)

Mary Wong mary.wong at icann.org
Fri Apr 8 20:02:44 UTC 2016

Dear all,

As several WG members have enquired about what it means to be a WG Chair/co-chair/vice-chair (such as the skill sets required, amount of ICANN knowledge and time commitment), I hope that everyone will find the information that follows helpful.

The Working Group Guidelines spell out the responsibility of the Chair(s) as being to call meetings, preside over deliberations, report results to the group’s Chartering Organization, and generally manage the process so that all participants have the opportunity to contribute. In addition, the Guidelines allow for the appointment of co- or vice-chairs to facilitate the Chair’s work by "ensuring continuity in case of the Chair’s absence, sharing of workload, and allowing the Chair to become engaged in a particular debate."

In terms of the actual skill sets and expertise that is desirable in the Chair(s), this excerpt from the Guidelines may also be informative:

6.1.3 Purpose, Importance, and Expectations of the Chair
“ … An experienced Chair with strong leadership and facilitation skills will be a key ingredient of a successful outcome. He or she should be able to distinguish between participants who offer genuine reasons for dissent and those who raise issues in an effort to block progress. The Chair should have the authority to enforce agreed upon rules applicable to anyone trying to disrupt discussions and be able to exclude individuals in certain cases, provided an avenue of appeal is available …

The Chair is expected to assume a neutral role, refrain from promoting a specific agenda, and ensure fair treatment of all opinions and objectivity in identifying areas of agreement. This does not mean that a Chair experienced in the subject manner cannot express an opinion, but he or she should be explicit about the fact that a personal opinion or view is being stated, instead of a ‘ruling of the chair.’ However, a Chair should not become an advocate for any specific position. The appointment of co-chairs could be considered and is encouraged as a way to share the burden, provide continuity in case of absence of the Chair as well as allowing group leaders to rotate their participation in the discussion

Ideally, a Chair should have sufficient and substantive process expertise, possess leadership skills and be skilled in consensus building.”

These Guidelines are reflected in the attached document, which is a summary based on the Guidelines and past experiences from other WGs. This WG can, of course, set its own additional criteria for its leadership team.

As such, staff with the support of Phil, our interim chair, urges all members of this WG, especially those who have not previously participated in a WG or who may have an interest in a leadership post, to review http://gnso.icann.org/en/council/summary-gnso-wg-guidelines-06apr11-en.pdf and http://gnso.icann.org/en/council/annex-1-gnso-wg-guidelines-07apr11-en.pdf to understand the Guidelines within which we will conduct our work.

Thanks and cheers

Mary Wong
Senior Policy Director
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
Email: mary.wong at icann.org
Telephone: +1-603-5744889

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