No, you cannot lie to your board of directors

We were blessed (cursed?) with the mother of all startup drama this week when Sam Altman was ousted from the helm of multi-billion-dollar startup OpenAI. How do we know that there is dramaaaa? Although Vanity Fair gathers.

Look, I’ve never been to any OpenAI board meetings, so God knows what’s going on there. One detail that kept scratching my head, however, was the quote that Altman “wasn’t always forthright in his communications with the board.” That stuck with me, because if there’s anything I’ve learned from construction companies, it’s that you have to be straight and honest with your board.

Bad news, in particular, should travel fast across the board for several reasons. Some of this sounds scary (fiduciary duties, anyone?), but it’s very serious. I have no inside knowledge of OpenAI or Sam Altman and I’m not accusing anyone of lying, but there is a great lesson that builders can learn from this whole palaver.

Startups have a reputation for moving fast and breaking things, but that reputation often doesn’t carry over to the board room. The relationship between leaders and their board is a critical part of a company’s success story. The golden rule in this relationship? Honesty.

No, you can’t lie on your board. Not only is this unethical, but it also has huge implications for your business, your team, and ultimately, your own credibility.

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