Strategies for Handling Difficult Board Members

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. 

How to Survive a Micro-Managing Board

The micro-managing board members show up to their first board meeting and before they have done anything of substance for the organization, they want to revamp the reports, review the nonprofit’s journal entries, question every expense, and critique the Chief Executive’s management style. One might rightly ask whether these activities are adding value. I would argue that nine times out of ten they are not.

Top 10 Nonprofit Governance Mistakes

Failing to Understand Fiduciary Duties. When you volunteer to serve as a director or officer of a nonprofit, you accept the responsibility to act with the duties of good faith, due care and loyalty. You also accept the potential liability for failing to fulfill those duties. Increased scrutiny from the I.R.S., Congress, state attorneys general, the Department of Justice, donors and the media require vigilance at every step. It is no longer sufficient to rubber stamp committee or staff recommendations or to simply “abstain” from dicey decisions. Today, board service comes with real responsibilities and real consequences for those that fail to live up to them.