How to deal with a difficult board member

dealing with difficult board members | Virtualnonexecs

It can be challenging to work with a board member who is causing difficulties. From time to time this will fetaire as a part of any non-executive or Chair’s role.Luckily for the non-executive, it will fall to the Chairperson but if you are reading tjis as a non-executive director, here are a few strategies you might consider to address the issue:

  1. Communicate openly and honestly: Try to have an open and honest conversation with the board member to understand their perspective and concerns. It may be helpful to schedule a dedicated meeting or call to discuss the issue at hand.
  2. Seek support from other board members: If the issue is severe or ongoing, it may be helpful to seek support from other board members. This can help to ensure that the issue is addressed in a fair and balanced way.
  3. Follow established protocols: If your organization has established protocols for addressing conflicts or concerns with board members, it may be helpful to follow these procedures. This can help to ensure that the issue is handled in a formal and structured way.

“It’s not the person who is difficult that’s the problem, it’s how we deal with them that is the problem.”


It’s important to remember that addressing conflicts and challenges with board members can be difficult, but it is an important part of effectively leading and managing an organisation, or supporting the board as a non-executive.

If you have tried the above, strategies I suggested and the issue persists, there are a few additional things you might consider:

  1. Review the board member’s role and responsibilities: Make sure that the board member understands their role and responsibilities, and that they are meeting their obligations. If the board member is unclear about their role or is not fulfilling their responsibilities, it may be helpful to have a conversation to clarify expectations and address any concerns.
  2. Set clear boundaries and expectations: It may be helpful to set clear boundaries and expectations for the board member’s behaviour and involvement in the organization. This can help to ensure that their actions are aligned with the organization’s goals and values.
  3. Consider removing the board member: If the issue cannot be resolved and the board member is not fulfilling their responsibilities or acting in the best interests of the organization, it may be necessary to consider removing them from the board. This is generally a last resort, and it is important to follow established protocols and procedures for removing a board member.

It may also be helpful to seek outside support or guidance, such as from a professional mediator or an organization development consultant, to help navigate the situation and find a resolution.

But what if it is a mindset problem?

If you believe that the issue with the board member is related to their mindset or perspective, it may be helpful to try to understand their perspective and find ways to address their concerns. This can involve having open and honest conversations about the issues at hand and trying to find common ground.

It may also be helpful to try to identify any underlying issues or concerns that may be contributing to the board member’s mindset or behaviour. For example, they may be feeling stressed or overwhelmed, or they may be having personal or professional challenges that are affecting their involvement with the organisation.

It’s important to remember that mindset and perspective can be difficult to change, and it may take time and effort to address the issue.

Here are a few strategies you might consider:

  1. Focus on common ground: Try to find common ground and shared values, and use this as a starting point for dialogue. This can help to build trust and create a sense of mutual understanding.
  2. Present new information: Share new information or research that may challenge the person’s perspective or beliefs. It’s important to do this in a respectful and non-confrontational way, and to be open to the possibility that the person may not be persuaded by the new information.
  3. Model the behaviour you want to see: Show the person how they can adopt a different mindset or perspective through your own actions and behaviour. This can be a powerful way to demonstrate the benefits of a different way of thinking.

It’s important to remember that it can be challenging to change someone’s mindset, and it may not be possible to persuade them to see things your way. It may be helpful to focus on finding ways to work together effectively and to respect each other’s differences.


Ready to join?

By clicking continue, you agree to our terms of business