Managing a Board of Directors (continued from yesterday):
It is simple: Either you the CEO manages the board or it will manage you. Once it starts managing you, the end game is already in play: in a short number of months your services as CEO will no longer be required. As in fired.
The board does not what to manage the startup. They have too much to do with their other startups, especially the ones that are in deep trouble. They do not need one more troubled company (yours). So the board exercises extra energy in attempts to not get to that bad situation. That is one reason they meet with the CEO and core management team each month.
Managing a board of directors may sound like a paradox to first time startup CEOs. After all, the board is the boss of the CEO. But the serial entrepreneurs know what is expected: the CEO leads the board and the board members contribute as each sees best. That is how it is done when it is done right in startups.
Here are some tips for how to manage your board of directors: (continued from yesterday)
· Report history, avoid making promises. Report results since the last meeting. Work hard to not make predictions and promises. If you hope to meet Amazon, it is best to wait until you do and then report that. If not, you will be dinged for not meeting Amazon. Sales forecasts need a lot of careful thought: most are wildly optimistic. Use waterfall charts to discipline your company and yourself. Do what you say you will do. Write down everything you agree to do during the board meeting. The board will. Do not volunteer to walk on water. Only one man did that without drowning.
· Use resources of your board members. They will be on boards of other companies with access to important information, people and other resources. They expect you to ask them for help from their networks of contacts as well as executives in residence and associates.
· Have fun at board meetings. This is part of the adventure. When board meetings convert from fun to work, from enjoyment to dread, then it is time for you to look for something else to do. Without the fun the adventure dies, for everyone. The board wants to behave like cheerleaders, excited about your growth and the company’s success. If you think like that, the meetings will be productive and an enjoyment for you and everyone there.