Two of my directors are at war. How do I broker a peace treaty?
Dear Aunty B,
A few years ago I brought in a non-executive director to my company. He’s smart, experienced and really good on corporate governance.
But he’s had a huge personality clash with one of my existing directors, who thinks my new guy is a fraud and a lightweight.
Tensions have simmered for a while, but at last week’s board meeting all hell broke out over an accounting question. My new guy has a lot of experience in this area, and raised some good questions about our prior accounting practices.
Well, my existing director went nuts and acted as though his judgement was being called into question on a grand scale. There were harsh words from both sides and my existing director walked out.
Aunty, I’d like to keep both of them. Is there a peacekeeping tactic I can use?
I am sorry my friend, but one director is going to have to go. And it’s pretty easy to see which one you need to chop – the existing director.
Your boardroom needs to be a place where questioning of ideas and past strategies is not only respected but welcomed. The new guy was just doing his job – trying to make things better at your company and trying to expose a potential issue.
If the old director can’t handle that, or feels threatened, then he needs to move on.
If he’s a big shareholder, I know that’s going to be a hard call. But I am afraid it is necessary. If he’s going to take pot shots at this new director, what’s he going to do to the one after that, and the one after that?
Kick him out!