Your board chair is causing problems for you company, what can you do?

5 min read

Sara Hatfield

Picture of Sarah Hatfield loving life


Startup success hinges on a myriad of elements, but one factor that often flies under the radar is effective board management. In the pulsating heart of every successful startup, there's a competent Board Chair orchestrating harmony between various stakeholders. But what happens when the maestro starts missing beats? In this blog post, we address the complexities of dealing with problematic Board Chairs, especially in the high-stakes environment of startups.

The Startup Challenge: Disarray in the Boardroom

In the energetic hubbub of startup culture, the boardroom can become a stage for unease and anxiety when a problematic Board Chair is in charge. The dynamic meetings, once filled with passionate discussions and innovative ideas, have turned into a hotbed of unilateral decisions, dwindling morale, and a lack of clear direction.

Spotting a Problematic Chair in the Startup Ecosystem

Single-handed Decision Making: In a startup, the stake of every decision is high. If your Board Chair has started dictating decisions rather than fostering a democratic decision-making process, it's a glaring sign of trouble.

Opacity in Operations: Startups thrive on trust and mutual respect. If the Chair is operating in shadows, withholding crucial information, or stifling open dialogues, it can breed a culture of mistrust and unease.

Inefficient Meetings: Startups are racing against time. If board meetings lack structure, clear agendas, or end without firm resolutions, it's a waste of precious resources and a hindrance to your startup's momentum.

Unprofessional Conduct: Any form of unprofessionalism, such as favoritism, dismissiveness, or lack of preparedness, can demoralize the team and stifle your startup's growth.

Conflict of Interest: If the Chair's personal or financial interests are conflicting with the startup's goals, it could lead to detrimental decisions.

Addressing the Issue in a Startup Context

Encourage Open Communication: Facilitate a conversation about the issues at hand. Given the smaller size of startups, a direct approach often leads to faster resolutions.

Leverage Board Influence: If a direct conversation isn't successful, rally your board members to present a unified front. This can bring the severity of the issue into focus for the Chair.

Engage External Assistance: If the situation persists, consider bringing in a professional mediator or organizational consultant. Their impartial perspective can be invaluable in resolving the conflict.

When a Change in Leadership is Inevitable

Sometimes, the Chair's removal is the only viable option to salvage your startup from potential disaster.

Adhere to Your Bylaws: Consult your bylaws for the procedure to remove a Chair. Ensure strict compliance to avoid any legal backlash.

Maintain Detailed Records: Document all instances of problematic behavior and the steps taken to rectify them. This paper trail can lend credibility to your case in the event of a legal contest.

Hold a Vote: The removal of a Chair usually necessitates a majority vote. Ensure this process is carried out with dignity and professionalism.

Establish a Succession Plan: Have a robust succession plan in place to ensure a smooth transition and to prevent any leadership vacuum.

Effective board management is a critical aspect of startup success. Navigating issues related to a problematic Board Chair can be tricky, but with the right approach, you can ensure that your startup remains on track. By promoting a culture of openness, collaboration, and respect, we can set the stage for our startups to thrive.

Stepping up Board Management with BoardShape

In the face of such challenges with a chainman or chairwoman, it becomes essential to have reliable systems in place that can help navigate your startup through these rough waters. This is where BoardShape enters the scene.

BoardShape is an innovative solution designed specifically to streamline board management and create an organized, friction-free environment. This comprehensive tool enables startups to handle everything from scheduling and running efficient meetings to managing documentation and communication in a secure, user-friendly platform.

By bringing structure and efficiency to your board operations, BoardShape reduces the scope of conflicts arising from disorganization or miscommunication. With all board-related information in one place, transparency becomes the norm, reducing the room for unilateral decisions or opaqueness in operations.

Furthermore, BoardShape's built-in voting feature enables smooth and transparent decision-making. In extreme cases, when a change in leadership is inevitable, this feature can be utilized to manage the voting process professionally and without any hassle.

While BoardShape might not be the magic wand that resolves all human issues, it undoubtedly sets the stage for a more collaborative and efficient boardroom environment. By reducing procedural friction, it allows board members to focus more on strategic discussions and decision-making rather than getting tangled in administrative hassles.

When equipped with BoardShape, your startup has a powerful ally that empowers you to better handle any boardroom crisis. It's a vital step towards ensuring that your startup's leadership can pivot from surviving to thriving, no matter the challenges that lie ahead. In the end, success lies not in avoiding problems but in tackling them head-on - and BoardShape is your partner in this journey.

Get your Board Management in Shape

Try BoardShape today. It's FREE to get started.

Get Going - Sign Up FREE