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Is it time to fire your board member?

For most nonprofit organizations, board members are invaluable cogs in a larger wheel. Unlike a singular leader, boards are able to incorporate different opinions and points of view into their decision making processes, which typically means they end up with more well-rounded results.

However, boards are made up of people, and people are inherently imperfect. And while you obviously elected each member with the best intentions, you could find yourself second-guessing your initial vote once the ball gets rolling. If you feel as though a member of your board is a weak link, you may need to terminate his contract. Here are some telltale signs that it's time to remove a board member.

Poor preparation
You're committing everything you have to make this business a success, and if it seems like someone on your board doesn't share this mindset, it might not be the right fit for him. Board and nonprofit CEO leadership coach Dennis C. Miller wrote on LinkedIn that a lack of preparation for meetings is a prime example of "disruptive behavior," as it inevitably drains valuable time from board gatherings. If this unreliability extends even further - for example, your board member is regularly nowhere to be found - then he's definitely detracting from your organization's goals.

In recent market research performed by ProOpinion, 31 percent of professionals stated that the strongest reason to fire a board member is that he doesn't follow through on tasks. If you sense a total lack of commitment on the part of a board member, it's time to explore the possibility of letting him go.

If you have a board member whose actions are negatively impacting your organization, it's time to let him go.If you have a board member whose actions are negatively impacting your organization, it's time to let him go.

Not a team player
Boards operate as teams, a setting that's not always right for individuals who are used to having the last word. Your board members were undoubtedly chosen for their personal and professional accolades, so you already know you've assembled a group of people with goals, ambitions and talent. While some of these people rose to the top via teamwork, others did it by placing themselves first and eradicating whatever - or whoever - stood in their way. The former type of professional is an ideal candidate to be a board member, while the latter could very quickly become a problem.

"Prioritizing personal power over the larger mission is toxic."

Nonprofit consultant Joan Garry explained that someone who prioritizes power over the organization's mission is what she calls a TBM, or "toxic board member." A typical TBM, while extremely accomplished and qualified to assist with your business, cares more about himself than the board and company as a whole. This attitude doesn't work in a business structure that thrives on teamwork, so you should probably ask him to chase his goals elsewhere.

How to fire a board member
Once you've determined a member of your board isn't a good fit, you should then figure out how to go about firing him. Fast Company explained that this can be a sensitive issue, especially if the board member did nothing that was overwhelmingly detrimental. The source recommended keeping the CEO out of the firing process, and instead having a well-respected senior member of the board facilitate the discussion, in which the member's negative attitude and actions are brought to light.

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