Over the last 15 years, I’ve consulted with a few clients who, in the midst of our strategic planning sessions or evaluation efforts, must deal with the added stress of handling conflict within their boards. At best, these conflicts are time- and energy-consuming hassles. At worst, they can derail an entire planning or implementation process or bring a foundation’s momentum to a screeching halt.

I’m happy to report that extreme conflict is the exception rather than the rule. Most board members are rational, committed professionals. However, even among the most collegial boards there’s always the possibility of conflict, and savvy foundation leaders I know have used the following approaches to diffuse disagreement smoothly and quickly.

  1. Remain impartial.
  2. Stick to the facts. 
  3. Frame the debate in terms of the mission. 
  4. Focus on the professional, not the personal. 
  5. Find a confidential, outside sounding board to help maintain your objectivity – and possibly your sanity. 

Read the full article about boardroom conflict by Kris Putnam-Walkerly at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.