Q: I have a Board member who monopolizes meetings with long, micro-managing questions on pieces of business that have nothing to do with her role. (It’s the ED’s job to do much of what she presses on about, and the ED is doing a great job.) This person makes Board meetings very tedious – so much so that other Board Members are becoming disillusioned about coming to meetings. Who should speak with her on this behavior? And what may be some good opening words?
A: Good for you for taking action. This kind of disruptive behavior is often ignored. But as you’re seeing, the consequences can be far reaching.
With Board members, peer to peer communication is often most effective. If possible, ask a fellow Board member to address this issue. If that is not an option, identify a senior staff member with whom she has a good working relationship. Whoever does the talking, this should be a one-on-one conversation that takes place in a neutral setting.
When you sit down with her:
My daughter requested Harold and the Purple Crayon before bedtime recently. It had been a challenging day, during which we both struggled to contain our frustration with the others’ lack of understanding. Why could she not listen and put on her shoes when I asked? Why could I not let her follow her impulse to play instead of demanding we get in the car already?
As the story of the boy and his adventures unfolded, I became aware of a theme: each moment in our lives presents a choice. Harold draws a straight path for himself (so as not to get lost), then decides to veer off in a different direction. After frightening himself with the dragon he’s created, he finds himself submerged in the ocean and quickly creates a boat that sails to shore. He is quick thinking and open to possibilities. And at each turn, he makes a choice that affects whether he moves ahead or gets caught in the turmoil.
It was a pointed reminder that not only do we get to choose how we respond to each challenge and opportunity, it is our job as leaders to make that choice consciously and well. What if instead of choosing struggle I chose gratitude? Or laughter? Turns out laughter doesn’t get us to our appointment any sooner. But I have a partner in getting there, and we’re smiling when we arrive.
Who are you butting heads with? And what choices can you make about how to manage yourself and that relationship?
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