How do I deal with a troublesome board member?

_Naturally, this is a question most founders would just as soon not have attributed to them. I agreed to post it on one person’s behalf._

*How do I deal with board member whose priorities seem to be diverging from mine and my co-founder’s at a critical time in the startup’s life?*

My co-founder and I have our hands full dealing with things like a) a product upgrade and b) a big sales push to get us over the hump. It’s a critical time for the business, and we’re pusing our team really hard. We’re confident that this will work, but we have a particularly difficult board member who doesn’t seem to share our attitude.

We’re not sure why, but nothing seems sufficient to meet his expectations for revenue (some of which I feel may be unreasonable for a young startup). We hear the word “results” a lot. I am beginning to fear that his attitude might have more to do with his own investment portfolio (need for an exit?), and less to do with our company. More pressing: we worry that his attitude, or lack of patience, will taint others on our board — insecurity breeds insecurity, and after a certain point, I’ve observed that many investors will opt for unloading a startup that represents a troublesome situation. (Ditto for a founder who represents same.)

The director is a well-connected investor, so we can’t afford to alientate him, or anyone else. And I figure if we go head-to-head with him we’ll lose. (Money talks.) So short of fostering more confrontation/conflict before the board, what can we do? The more time we spend assuaging his concerns, the less time we have for the real work.


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