Entrepreneurs have enough difficulties without the interference of office politics. However, such influences do come about and can lead to decisions that you will regret. The politics of not alienating a Board Member, advisor, mentor, or business associate are real and often overlooked. The Board of Directors has the responsibility of ensuring the proper running of a company. The advisors and mentors are part of the business because you trust them to help. Your team members and other associates are important to the company and their feelings can affect how they perform. You need to engage all of these people on different decisions that can affect the company. However, you must keep a perspective that “it is your job is to run the company!”
Take for example referrals by an advisor and separately by a Board Member. They have provided you with important contacts for a service provider to facilitate the development of a product your company is producing. These referrals are important and you need such referrals often as the company develops. You really should interview the referred providers. However, you should develop selection criteria and interview several providers. Then determine which provide the best service at the best price. Your final selection must reflect the provider expected to do the best work on behalf of the company and above all, you must be confident the provider is the best choice. Informing the people affiliated with your company then becomes a review of the logical selection process. Ensure them your selection was based on the group you felt would best enhance the company value. The selection is extremely important. The last thing you need is a group that did not fit the criteria regardless of who referred them. You have to live with the decision!
In an example of a deal with another company, a Board Member decides to take an overly active role in the process. The member dictates terms and negotiates on behalf of the company. The terms developed are complex and hard to manage. You know the deal is a killer, but your Board Member is someone to whom you should listen. Unless the entire Board of Directors instructed you to do the deal, you should do everything possible to bring the terms back to those you believe your company can manage. This may even mean taking a firm stand privately with the Board Member telling the person to back off. You want to remain on cordial terms with the person and it is critical you consider what they say, but doing a horrible deal is far worse than making the Board Member angry.
The point is that as the CEO of your company, you have the responsibility to run the business. Accepting anything you believe may harm the company should be a something you fight very hard to prevent. You must use your logic and reasoning to convince the people you work with that a different strategy would be superior. Ultimately, investors and Board Members judge you based on the performance of the company. It does not matter if the performance was due to a bad decision resulting from advice from someone else. You are the leader and you are the one that will take the fall in the public eye. Sometimes being the leader requires you to take a stand and fight. It may also require you to leave the company rather than do a horrible company killing deal. Do not feel you must always adhere to the advice from others. Listen and filter the information and then make your own final decisions based on solid criteria.
You can follow Taffy Williams on Twitter by @twilli2861 and you can email him with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him via company contact info in the website. More Startup information is contained in his personal blog.