founders, even when they have accepted the principle of aboard, find it difficult to choose candidates as they are suggested, eitherwithin or outside their own network. “The timing’s not quite right: if I chooseone, it narrows my options for the future, so I’ll wait until the investor(s)force my hand”, i.e. when it’s a necessary evil, the price of taking theirmoney, something to manage, but not embrace. (The Founder-CEO succession is astory to be addressed another day).
There is of course no standard or static specification foran individual board member, just as there is no perfect alignment between theExecutive team and Board that suits all situations and funding stages and avoidsmisalignments and problems. Boards alsoneed to adapt (sometimes quickly) to the maturity and growth stage mostrelevant. It would be wrong to assume thatthe skills and wisdom needed during the start-up stage remain valid later inthe journey.
Nevertheless, there are some “Rules of the Road”which can minimise founders’ and investors’ risks. Sticking with the drivinganalogy, I would recommend those interested refer to Reid Hoffman’s (LinkedInfounder) analysis, who stresses that an ideal board adviser needs to be thereto support the driver (the founder/CEO), but who equally knows to stay firmlyin the passenger seat; to help the driver successfully tackle the bends in theroad (“sharp left coming”, “road’s in the shadow – look out for ice”, “here’sthe straight – time to floor the accelerator”), but crucially knows not to grabthe steering wheel, nor reach for the handbrake at the first sign of trouble
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