Think back to the last time you had to (or at least wanted to) confront your boss about micromanaging your work. Now imagine having ten bosses instead of one. You’ve just stepped into the shoes of your nonprofit’s executive director. While we might all like to cast aside the possibility of an overreaching board member in our organizations, even the most well run nonprofit boards will deal with difficult board members at some point. Boards are full of, well, humans, who have a unique set of personal experiences, emotions, and motivations that influence on their job as a director. Sometimes, that can lead to conflict that is uncomfortable, unproductive, and even contrary to the organization’s best interests.
At a baseline, your board needs to meet with sufficient frequency to adequately carry out your basic fiduciary and governance duties. This includes hiring the CEO and monitoring the CEO’s performance, creating a vision and direction for the nonprofit, setting goals and monitoring their progress, developing policies and procedures, ensuring sufficient financial resources, and generally safeguarding the organization and its mission.
At times, issues will give rise to spirited debate among Board Members who each possess valuable yet different skill sets and different points of view. The Chair should make efforts to mediate differing opinions and encourage consensus on actions or policies that represent the best aspects of all points of view.