Anu Hariharan on Managing a Board | Summary and Q&A

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Anu Hariharan on Managing a Board

TL;DR

This podcast discusses the best practices for managing a board of directors, including board composition, structuring board meetings, handling conflict, and building trust.

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Key Insights

  • 💼 Board composition: The composition of a board typically starts with founders and may include seed investors. As the company grows, outside directors are added, usually starting with the series A round. Board composition may change as the company approaches IPO.
  • 💡 Importance of a trusted board member: CEOs desire a trusted board member who can provide valuable input and feedback, particularly during challenging times. A trusted board member can help CEOs navigate difficult decisions and provide guidance as the company scales.
  • 📃 Structuring board meetings: Board meetings should have a structured agenda, focusing not only on status updates but also on key strategic topics. Setting board meetings at a regular cadence, preferably in person, allows for more productive discussions.
  • 🌟 Conflict and disagreement: Conflict among board members is common and healthy. CEOs should welcome and encourage conflicting viewpoints to ensure robust discussions. Although the final decision rests with the CEO, hearing differing opinions can help make more informed choices.
  • ⚙️ Following up after board meetings: After a board meeting, it is essential to follow up on conflicting viewpoints that could not be resolved during the meeting. Taking the time to address these issues and gather more information helps make informed decisions as a CEO.
  • 🚫 Dealing with unhelpful board members: If efforts to provide constructive feedback do not work, CEOs can work with other board members or senior members of the VC firm to address the issue. If necessary, a replacement board member can be requested from the VC firm.
  • 👥 Great board members: Trust, the ability to provide valuable feedback without taking over decisions, and experience in areas such as fundraising, hiring, and strategic decision-making are qualities that make a board member great.
  • 💼 Alignment of board and company cultures: The board culture often reflects the company culture. CEOs tend to gravitate toward board members who share their values and reflect their company's values, resulting in a similar culture at the board level.

Transcript

okay on your welcome to the podcast Thank You Craig thank you for having me so this one is about board management your recent posts how to manage a board did really well and I think people have some extra questions and also if they haven't read the posts yet we can kind of break down some of the bigger ideas today so let's start off with why did yo... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How should a founder approach board composition in the early stages of a company?

In the early stages, board composition often includes the founders and seed investors. As the company grows and raises funding, additional outside directors are added to bring industry expertise and independent viewpoints.

Q: How can founders ensure productive board meetings?

Founders should establish a structured agenda for board meetings, prioritizing key strategic topics. It is important to create an environment that encourages open and constructive discussions, while also respecting the CEO's decision-making authority.

Q: How should a founder handle conflict among board members?

Conflict among board members is common and should be expected. It is the CEO's responsibility to manage disagreements and make decisions that align with the company's best interests. Constructive feedback and open communication can help navigate conflicts effectively.

Q: How can a board member add value to a company even if they have limited industry experience?

While industry experience can be valuable, there are other factors to consider when selecting a board member. Trust, the ability to help with fundraising and hiring, and strong strategic decision-making skills are important qualities that can make a board member valuable to a company.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Board composition typically starts with the founders and seed investors, and evolves as the company grows and raises more funding.

  • Structured board meetings should focus on key strategic topics and provide a platform for open and constructive discussions.

  • Conflict among board members is common, and it is important for CEOs to navigate disagreements while maintaining trust and making decisions that align with the company's best interests.

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