By | Shital Kakkar Mehra | Executive Presence Coach for CEOs I Business Communication Expert I Best-selling Author I Co-Founder Katalyst, NGO
A board is a diverse group of accomplished individuals who are expected to reach decisions using consensus. Is it easy for a group of illustrious men & women to reach agreement? Not really! A few tips to handle conflicts by maintaining protocol and creating a win-win for the organization:
- Pre-meeting: To better comprehend the issues faced by the organization, read the minutes of the previous meeting and the agenda for the scheduled one. Spend a few hours studying supporting documents sent along with the agenda. In case papers are not received well in advance, highlight this at the next meeting. Also, RSVP to the concerned person confirming your attendance.
- Maintain decorum: Your body language should convey interest and participation. Wait for the chair / speaker to open the floor for questions and stay with the topic as taking the discussion on a tangent wastes time. Display good listening skills and don’t interrupt the other members while they are speaking.
- Participation: Promote participation by involving the quieter members in the decision-making process and by offering the junior members an opportunity to air their views.
- Consensus: Spend time debating all the agenda items, even if opinions are divided. Express your dissent if you feel strongly about an issue. Also, once the board has made a decision, even if you didn’t vote for it, show loyalty to your fellow members by gracefully accepting it, enabling the team to move forward.
- Conflict: Personality clashes are bound to be a part of the decision-making process in a high-powered board meeting Conflict is the sign of a healthy functioning board as it signals both diversity and independent thinking. Deal with conflict by discussing matters as they emerge within the boardroom and resist playing politics by holding private meetings outside with select members. In case your board has a Lead Independent Director, use the opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have with them. While board members should park their egos outside the boardroom, getting argumentative/ emotional is frequently seen. Be quick to offer an apology, if you were wrong.
- Confidentiality: As boards have access to sensitive information, (lawsuits, stock prices, buyouts, etc.) be extremely cautious about the if and why of presenting this information to the world outside.