How to deal with fellow board members ignoring your warnings

p 1 boardroom drama my fellow directors are ignoring a potential problem

Editor’s Word: Every week Maynard Webb, former CEO of LiveOps and the previous COO of eBay, will supply candid, sensible, and typically shocking recommendation to entrepreneurs and founders. To submit a query, write to Webb at dear[email protected]

Q. I lately identified a hard challenge with a key govt to the opposite members on my board. They listened however finally didn’t observe what I recommended. I don’t agree and I’m undecided how to proceed.

 –Board member of a public firm


Pricey Board member,

Should you’re like me, or most board members, you’ve gotten very clear opinions. Usually, you might have the intuition to attempt to win on each challenge that arises. Generally it’s higher to concede and dwell to combat one other day.

The previous proverb that warns you possibly can win each battle, however lose the conflict is true. You seemingly already know that each battle comes at a price. Each requires expending power and that may additionally take focus away from different issues that demand your consideration.

All through my profession I’ve realized which you can’t argue about all the pieces you disagree with as a result of that may exhaust you and eat away on the belief others have in you. Keep in mind, you might be constructing or dropping belief and credibility each day. Subsequently, you should actually know which choices are value imposing your will on—and which of them aren’t. That is one thing I make use of each day at my boards, the place there are a lot of points that come up, however solely a small variety of choices I pressure. I select to let many issues go so I can have a say within the huge points that I consider will decide the destiny of the corporate.

This doesn’t imply that you just shouldn’t ever combat for what you need. It does imply you want to decide what issues are value combating for. Let me offer you an instance from one thing that occurred with one of many corporations in our WIN portfolio: A CEO and board member have been at odds relating to a call over eradicating one other board member. This disagreement got here in the course of a gross sales course of final result. If I have been on this scenario, I’d have put up with some dysfunction on the board and concentrate on the prize of promoting the corporate. We should at all times bear in mind that selecting the mistaken battle will make getting to the true prize take longer—and even danger it from occurring.

How have you learnt what’s value it and what’s not? I look to the good Stephen Covey’s work delineating the distinction between a “sphere of affect” and “circle of concern.” If you would like to spark change, it’s higher to concentrate on the areas wherein you’ve gotten a sphere of affect. How do you inform if one thing is in your circle of concern or sphere of affect? Ask your self the next questions:

  • Is it in my scope? Is that this my duty? Is that this one thing I’ve to do? Or, is it a chance to let another person lead this and be taught?
  • How essential is that this determination? Is it an organization determination the place there are nice stakes? Or, is that this an experiment? If it doesn’t work out, will it’s uncomfortable or will it’s a disaster?

Lastly, assess whether or not you’ve articulated your standpoint and if it has been acknowledged and heard. It’s best to at all times combat should you really feel the choice will hurt the corporate. If it won’t, perceive that you’ve tons to do and among the finest choices you may make is deciding to let it go.