Working with a Difficult Board Chair or Member

Thursday, May 23 at 10:00 am Pacific time

If you need the information right away, take our self-paced online course here.

Group dynamics are fascinating, aren’t they? Since humankind began to work together in cooperative groups, the guiding influence of a few over the many has been demonstrated as an excellent way to complete tasks. Most of the time, the end result left everyone happy—shelters were built, groups were fed, etc. But sometimes an individual with a strong opinion, and personality to match, could disrupt the harmony of the group and make it difficult to get anything done.

When our friend Henry Martyn Robert wrote Robert’s Rules of Order in 1876, he understood the human condition enough to know that his rules should include some tips and tricks to help navigate the task of working with difficult chairs or board members. Just because someone has a strong personality doesn’t mean they don’t have valid points—and sometimes, collaborating with such members can make the resolutions of issues stronger as a whole.

I have attended two workshops within the last six weeks. They are fabulous. I really appreciate how you have unpacked Robert's Rules of Order into a format that is accessible.

Barbara Robertson, Swahili interpreter and Secretary, Interpreters United, Local 1671, WFSE

So how do you, as a member of a governing body, work with a difficult board chair or member?

How can you keep a strong personality from taking over—especially if they think they have every right to as the board chair?

Can Robert’s Rules really help?

The short answer is “YES! Of course!” And our own professional Registered Parliamentarian Ann Macfarlane is just the person to help!

During our live Zoom workshop, you will learn how to deal with a difficult chair or board member in a fun, informative session that includes live Q&A and a breakout session.

After this live Zoom workshop, you will be able to:

  • Understand why it’s important that the whole group work together to ensure no one individual takes over.
  • See how it’s detrimental to team dynamics and the work you want to achieve if everyone is “ruled” by the chair.
  • Know why it’s important for everyone to understand that group authority is more significant than any one individual, even the chair.
  • Be able to sanction a board member whose actions are harmful to the entire board.
  • Know what steps to take when the chair oversteps their authority.

Even if you have a “get along to go along” personality, this workshop will empower you to help break the hold a difficult chair or member has over your group.

I'm sure you get this a lot, but you've made the complex accessible and in a time when all voices must have an opportunity to contribute, a special thank you, Ann.

Julia Ismael, The Equity Consortium, Head Architect of Aspirations

What do I get for attending?

Along with the ability to get your questions answered during the session by Professional Registered Parliamentarian Ann Macfarlane, you will also receive:

  1. 90 minutes of access to Registered Parliamentarian Ann Macfarlane ($285 value)
  2. Recording of the workshop available to you for 30 days after the live session ($110 value)
  3. BONUS #1: We open our workshops 30 minutes before the start time for casual networking and collaboration with other attendees. Plus you can queue up your questions in advance during this time.
  4. BONUS #2: Extensive packet of reference materials that you can share freely with others ($100 value)
  5. BONUS #3: Discount coupon code for 50% off our popular laminated cheat sheet, “Wait! Wait! What Should I Say?” ($5 value)

This whole package is valued at $500, but we are currently offering this important workshop for only $57. Since registration is limited, we encourage you to register today before we fill up.


  • What if my schedule changed and I can no longer make it to the live workshop?

While we highly recommend you attend the live session so that you can make sure your own questions are answered, our sessions are recorded and you will have 30 days to access the recorded session.

  • Can I get a refund if I don’t attend?

Since we provide a recording of the session, we do not offer refunds.

  • Can I bring more additional people to this workshop on my registration?

Since this is virtual, we do request that each individual participant purchase their own seat.

  • Will you offer this workshop at another time?

While we can’t make any promises, this is a popular and much-needed workshop, so we may offer it in the future. However, since we do share the recording, if you think this is information you need to make your work easier, we encourage you to register today and then listen to the recording. Plus, you will still get access to the coupon code for the cheat sheet plus the hefty package of bonus materials.

Elderly woman Ann Macfarlane, with short gray hair, glasses, and a green patterned shirt, smiling while standing in front of blurred stairs.

Hi. I'm Ann Macfarlane. I know the frustration of trying to make sense of Robert’s Rules of Order. The book is complex and difficult to easily implement.

I’ve already done the work. Now I help elected officials and nonprofit board members, like you, learn and understand Robert’s Rules because it’s hard to make progress in ineffective meetings.

I’ve worked for the U.S. government, as a nonprofit volunteer president, an executive director, and a staff assistant, so I understand the challenges each role and organizational structure has.

I have answered 100s of actual on-the-job questions about Robert’s Rules. I can help you, too.