Board of Directors/Advisors is absolutely critical for an organization and startup to have. It’s very tricky and complex to set up, and it can be risky too. You also need very experienced, seasoned and highly-skilled professionals who can provide expert guidance, clearly identify blind spots, help you navigate through tough times, and brainstorm with. Finding these types of individuals isn’t easy!
There are some obvious challenges. First, since they aren’t involved in day-to-day operations, they’ll have a lack of information and insights into the business and personalities.
This also makes it hard on board members. The ambiguity, uncertainty, and unknowns can cause a lot of fear and anxiousness. Combinations of these elements can lead successful people to want to exert more control and micro-manage details.
Therefore, there is also a balance on how much influence to give to them and how much guidance you seek out.
There is no pyramid or hierarchical structure between a board and a management team.
Board/Management Team relationship a delicate, nuanced balance that must be nurtured and carefully crafted. Each side must “stand in each other’s shoes” and listen first and more than they speak. Otherwise poor collaboration, misunderstandings, and miscommunication will arise.
Having a great board isn’t that common and it’s difficult to pull off. Often times, the board can often derail the management team. They also can be anger, major frustrations and huge conflicts that suck up a tremendous amount of time. These things will lead to failure and/or underperformance.
How you structure it, manage meetings and maintain ongoing communication and collaboration is something you should carefully plan out.
Here are some questions to ask to build a board or to add professionals to help to take the organization to the next level of success and reach your ultimate goal(s):
- When a crisis hits and you are in a “hell storm”, which board member would you call first? Why? Who would be second? Why?
- Let’s play a game. If your board was actually your executive team, what capabilities and qualities are missing?
- What specific skills does your board need overall? What do you have currently? What do you need?
- How would public investors view your board? What would they applaud? What would they believe is lacking?
- What’s the policy and procedures for holding the board accountable? Who enforces that?
- Have you clearly defined all the roles and responsibilities for the board and interactions with the management team?
- What’s the current relationships between the board and management team (and their staff)?