As a former operator, I remember how much collective time and stress went into preparing for these meetings. How would we explain an underperforming quarter? Yet, time and time again, I was amazed by what happened after the meetings: CEOs emerged purpose-driven, determined, and focused. It was never lost on me how deeply transformative bringing together this powerful group could be.

This 101 guide for early-stage CEOs was born from our desire to make board meetings less stressful. It is a compilation of learnings from nearly 40 CEOs, chairs, and directors including Balderton partners as we have collectively served as directors for 250+ tech companies, and attended thousands of board meetings.

Read the guide

Good boards are unafraid of healthy debate and tackling uncomfortable conversations. They bring experience to the table and help navigate tough situations. But great boards go beyond business as usual and provide holistic and empathetic support for founders and CEOs.

A few additional high-level takeaways include:

  1. Successful boards are built on a foundation of respect. Board dynamics are difficult to get right, in part, because they require masterful amounts of teamwork and empathy. As this group may be together for a long time, integrating human understanding can generate smoother collaboration and build trust early on.
  2. Establish good foundational routines early on. There is no single right way to manage your board of directors and no single blueprint for conducting productive board meetings. However, there are tools, routines, and best practices that can make these processes less painful and add significant value to your organisation. It’s best not to wait until the business becomes too complex or large to implement these.
  3. Use the board’s time wisely. Leave enough time in your meetings to dive deep into 2-4 strategic topics. Almost everyone I spoke to exclaimed, “I wish we spent more time on strategy and less time on KPIs!” This group is experienced and eager, so take advantage of their time and delve into the important issues.
  4. Prepare! Directors, please read the board pack in advance! CEOs, please send the board pack 5 business days prior to the meeting.

This guide is just the beginning – there are many spin-off conversations to be had, such as delving into creating an ESG agenda, or building an inclusive board. I look forward to continuing the discussion.