Monday, April 25, 2016

Yikes! Motivation Doesn’t Last!

Zig Ziglar:
“People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

So what motivates the men and women who serve on your board? And is your on-going motivation adequate? (Is it daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or never?) 

Three ideas:

Motivation Idea #1: Check Motivation Temperatures Often! Perhaps Jennifer joined your board for one reason, but three years later that original motivation is inadequate to keep your ministry on the front burner of her heart and passions. So keep taking the motivation temperatures of each board member. One size doesn’t fit all—and you’ll need to creatively assess how to inspire and bless each individual board member. How? Ask!

Motivation Idea #2: Motivation Is About Serving God—Not You! According to Al Newell, co-founder of High Impact Volunteer Ministry Development: 

“Sustaining motivation is better understood as a by-product as opposed to a goal of itself. It is my experience that if you pursue discipleship with volunteers, motivation will follow. If volunteers see the fulfillment of their role as ‘obeying and serving God’ rather than serving you or your organization, it will cause motivation to swell.”

Just today in a phone conversation about what motivates board members, Terry Stokesbary, senior program director at M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, shared this truth with me:
“Souls must be nurtured.” 

Motivation Idea #3: Share Good News Generously. If your board meets just two to four times a year, don’t rely on those meetings alone for motivation to swell. Instead, many CEOs send their boards a monthly update. The “CEO’s 5/15 Monthly Update to the Board” is an easy-to-use template that takes about 15 minutes to write and about five minutes for a board member to read. The template includes space for an encouraging and motivating ministry story. (Pat Clements, president of Church Extension Plan, when chairing the board of what is now Christian Leadership Alliance, shared this brilliant concept with me.)

Honest! Just today, another CEO began using this 5/15 template and he emailed the good news to me. That motivated me!

QUESTION: What should our board chair, our executive committee members, and our CEO do, religiously, to sustain the healthy motivation of all board members? 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Does Your CEO or Pastor Need a Coach?

Social media lit up yesterday with the sad news of a top ministry leader being terminated. According to the official announcement from the board, “historical patterns of sin” prompted the decision.

It was a wake-up call for one pastor/blogger who suggested that maybe all pastors should have a back-up plan (another job in mind to support their families) in case they lose their livelihood from their clergy careers.

My suggestion: find a coach.

It’s ironic that superstar athletes all have coaches—but few ministry leaders think it necessary. For some, it’s almost a sign of weakness.

Yet pro golfers have niche coaches (swing coach, putting coach, etc.). Amazingly, Kobe Bryant scored 60 points to punctuate his last NBA game with the Lakers this week. He played in the NBA All-Stars game 18 of 20 seasons. Hmmmm. Kobe’s had a coach since junior high basketball.

So why do boards wait until crisis time to bring in outside help? What if—as part of a normal, healthy, biblically-functioning church or ministry—boards invested in their CEOs and pastors and helped them grow now? Helped them leverage their God-given spiritual gifts, strengths and passions?

Bill McCartney, former head football coach of the University of Colorado, and founder and chairman emeritus of Promise Keepers, has a great coaching definition:

“Coaching is taking a player 

where he can’t take himself.”

I’ve talked about blind spots before. But sometimes board members miss the golden opportunity—right in front of them: this month encourage your CEO to find a coach. (And this reminder from last month: board members need coaching too!)

My gut: every CEO and pastor I know would benefit immensely by engaging an experienced, God-honoring coach. 
   • Tenures would be extended. 
   • Encouragement would be enhanced. 
   • Spiritual sensitivity and Christ-like character would be enriched. 
   • Vision would sky-rocket.

The old Fram oil filter line is applicable:
“You can pay me now
or pay me later

Pay Me Now: Boards can invest time and resources up front—and grow their leaders.

Or Pay Me Later: Boards can wait for the crisis, the verbal fist fights, the closed door meetings, the Hatfields and the McCoys side-taking, the late night phone calls, the messy termination, the drop in morale and money, and worse.
Steve Brown, president of Arrow Leadership, says “leading me” is a Christian leader’s most important assignment. Your decision! Does your CEO or senior pastor need a coach?

QUESTION: Is there a former athlete in your organization or donor circle who has benefitted from a coach—and could share with your board and CEO why coaching might be the next step in leadership development?

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Just Do 1 Thing a Month!

In the hallway, board members often grimace and admit to me, “I don’t think I’m doing enough as a board member—but I’m not sure how I can be of more help. I don’t want to micro-manage, or assume a staff position. I just wish there was more clarity about the expectations of my role on the board
in between meetings.”

Good news! A board member recently shared a brilliant solution to this dilemma.

I was consulting with a ministry board at their annual weekend retreat, and a new board member made a presentation based on his expertise in his day job—he’s the senior vice president of advancement for a major state university. In addition to sharing the latest trends in giving, what motivates givers, and how to grow giving, he shared this insight with his new board colleagues:

Every month, he said, he contacts the institution's board of directors and reminds them:
“Just do one thing a month 
for our university!”

University board members have the grocery list of ways they can inspire, influence and impact other people for the university’s important mission. 

Your ministry’s list of “Just Do 1 Thing” will be unique to your cause—but it might include these ideas:

Just Do 1 Thing a Month: The List
[  ] Set up a lunch meeting with a prospective giver and the CEO.
[  ] Invite a colleague to a ministry event.
[  ] Open a door at a family foundation.
[  ] Host a prayer gathering for our ministry.
[  ] Pray and then send a sacrificial gift.
[  ] Call current major givers to say thanks for their faithfulness.
[  ] Other: ___________________________________
[  ] _________________________________________

Imagine the clarity and confidence you’ll create when your board members know that if they do just one thing a month for your ministry—on the development side—they will have a sense of “I’m being faithful.”

And speaking of clarity, be sure that you distinguish between the board member’s three hats (Governance, Volunteer, Participant) when establishing “Just Do 1 Thing a Month” expectations. (For help, order the ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 2: Balancing Board Roles.)

Matthew 25:23 reads, “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’” (NLT)

QUESTION: Are your expectations for board members crystal clear—so everyone knows when to celebrate a board member’s faithfulness?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tame the Advice Monster!

Quick! Read this new book before your next board meeting!

“Tame the advice monster,” urges Michael Bungay Stanier, the author of the hot-off-the-press book, The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever. (Read my review here.)

The author notes, “We’ve all got a deeply ingrained habit of slipping into the advice-giver/expert/answer-it/solve-it/fix-it mode.” (One study revealed that doctors interrupt patients with advice within 18 seconds. Ditto, perhaps, the rest of us in the boardroom!)

Slow down and take a breath, says Stanier. “Even though we don’t really know what the issue is, we’re quite sure we’ve got the answer they need.”

Oh, my.  This is brilliant counsel for the boardroom, isn’t it? When your CEO poses a difficult question to the board—how often do you (and your board colleagues) jump in with the first fix that comes to mind?

(And we should note: most CEOs only give boards their most difficult problems. The easy challenges never make it to the board agenda. Welcome to the board!)

So how do you tame the advice monster?  Stanier says you must ask “The Best Coaching Question in the World.” I’m guessing that few board members see themselves as coaches. We’re advice givers. That’s why we’re on the board, right?

The Coaching Habit lists seven essential coaching questions:
   • The Kickstart Question
   • The AWE Question
   • The Focus Question
   • The Foundation Question
   • The Lazy Question
   • The Strategic Question
   • The Learning Question

Stanier says the best coaching question in the world is the AWE question:
“And What Else?”

At a workshop recently, led by the author, I was in a four-minute exercise with another board chair. I was instructed to ask four questions displayed on the seminar room screen. Stanier says “the first answer someone gives you is almost never the only answer, and it’s rarely the best answer,” so the AWE question is the perfect follow-up.
   • Q1: What’s the real challenge here for you?
   • Q2: And what else?
   • Q3: And what else?
   • Q4: So what’s the real challenge here for you?

In just four minutes—it was almost magical. I stuck to the bargain (whew—very hard) and just asked questions of my board chair partner. He responded to each question—and increasingly, in response to “And what else?” he dug deeper and deeper and—BINGO!—answered his own question and solved his own challenge.

What if the next time your CEO posed a prickly problem to your board, you put on your coaching hat—while humbling your advice-giving tongue—and then simply responded, “And what else?”

Paul writes in Galatians 5:22-23 (Amplified Bible), “But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

QUESTIONS: At your board meetings, are you an advice-giving monster—or a thoughtful, prayerful listener? Should we order several copies of The Coaching Habit and ask for a book review at our next board meeting?

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Board Service Word Association Game

What’s the first word that comes to mind when a colleague or family member asks you, “What’s it like to serve on that board?”

Pick one:
   • Joy
   • Irksome
   • Boring
   • Inspiring
   • Fulfilling
   • Fun
   • Fruitful
   • Encouraging
   • Discouraging
   • (Other):

What’s your word?

My dad served a few terms on the deacon board at our church. I don’t ever recall his post-board meeting commentaries being joyful. Did your parents serve on church or ministry boards? How would they describe board meetings? Are you serving on a board today because of a parent or older mentor who paved a positive path for you?

As a young CEO of what is now called Christian Camp and Conference Association (CCCA), I was blessed with remarkable board members, and especially board chairs. I remember looking forward to board meetings. 

One of my board chairs in the 1980s, Bob McDowell, had a rich blend of both pastoral and practical gifts. He told us that at the board meetings of Warm Beach Camp and Conference Center (where he served as CEO), he projected the mission statement on the wall—so all decision-making would be in alignment with their mission. That helped our association board fine-tune our mission and stay focused on our vision.

Fast forward to 2016. Bob’s son, Ed McDowell, is now the CEO at Warm Beach and also chairs the national board of CCCA. Ed, I’m sure, saw joy in his dad’s board service, and he joyfully accepted the leadership and board baton. Today, Ed is creating a ripple effect of board service fruitfulness—locally, nationally, and internationally.

This past month when Ed and I were facilitating a board enrichment process for 12 ministries, I learned a new governance term from him: “heavy lifting.” The Warm Beach board meets three times a year (including a board retreat). “Heavy Lifting” or “Work that Matters,” notes Ed, “gets the prime energy of the day. In our 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. agenda, heavy lifting will be from 9:30 a.m. to noon.”

The board wants their best energy (mornings) to be focused on the big agenda items for that meeting. Here’s a bonus idea from Ed. The Warm Beach board uses this sequence in their heavy lifting sessions:
   • Context
   • Draft Recommendation
   • Discussion
   • Refine or Refer Back (to committee, staff, or task force)
   • Approve If Ready

“Heavy lifting” was a new board term for me—and, as I reflected on this, it was a double blessing.  Bob McDowell mentored me on joyful board service and now I’m learning even more from his son, Ed.

QUESTION: Does your board service inspire other family members (sons, daughters, nieces and nephews) to invest their lives in Christ-centered board work? What are they learning from you about growing healthy boards?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Oops! Tension Between Clarity and Generative Thinking!

First, my confession. I chaired a board meeting recently and later discovered that our board’s brainstorming (sometimes a good cover for meddling!) ended without clarity on the staff’s next steps.

A recent ECFA governance survey of almost 2,500 CEOs, board chairs and board members noted that of the three aspects of governance: fiduciary, strategic, and generative—all three segments rated their “generative governance effectiveness” significantly lower than the other two aspects.

The authors of Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards, Richard P. Chait, William P. Ryan, and Barbara E. Taylor, describe “generative governance” as:
• being often overlooked,
• a broader re-imagining of the organization's nature and role in light of emerging trends, 
• and, where board members also explore "opportunities to be a source of leadership as well as a source of advice, expertise, and fundraising."

It’s a delicate dance, a fine line, a slippery slope (insert your favorite metaphor here). But as the authors note, “…in their ‘day jobs’ as managers, professionals, or leaders of organizations, trustees routinely rely on generative thinking, so much so they have no need to name it or analyze it. They just do it. But in the boardroom, trustees are at a double disadvantage. Most boards do not routinely practice generative thinking.”  

They add,
“When it comes to generative governing,
most trustees add too little, too late.” 

So…at that board meeting, while we had fun with generative thinking, the staff probably saw it as “sensible foolishness” (another way the authors describe the term).

At the next board meeting, I apologized for the confusion and suggested to our board members that whenever we go down the generative thinking path, we conclude the mental hike with crystal clarity. If an action item or policy change does not make it into the minutes, then the staff will conclude that there was no harm/no foul.

Our goal, always, is that great line from Policy Governance® Guru John Carver, “The board speaks with one voice or not at all.” And I would add, “and with properly documented minutes.”

As I reflected on the meeting, I sensed a nudge from the Lord, asking that while one apology was good and needed—why had it been so long since the last time I had apologized to the CEO, the staff, or the board? 

Scott Rodin reminds us in his powerful book, The Steward Leader: Transforming People, Organizations and Communities, “If I could put one Bible verse on the desk of every pastor and every Christian leader in the world, it would be this: ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us’ (1 John 1:8).” Yikes.

QUESTIONS: When your board adjourns, is your CEO and senior staff crystal clear on next steps—or has fuzzy dialogue replaced well-written action items? And, when is the last time someone apologized in your board meeting?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Board in the Boat, Part 3: Discombobulation

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series on strategy alignment, we’ve used the “board in the boat” metaphor to discuss the importance of inspiring board members (and the CEO and staff) to all be rowing in the same direction

But alignment is not enough!

In his short and succinct book on board service, Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board, Max De Pree (former CEO and chairman at Herman Miller and a former seminary board chair), writes:
 “An effective board decides what it will measure and does it.
  • A good board measures the effectiveness of its executive team.
  • A good board reviews the effectiveness of its members.
  • And a good board is going to ask at the right times, ‘How are we doing against our plan?’
  • A good board will always measure the results of any major investment.
A good board will measure the appropriate inputs as well as outputs.”

Then he adds, “Failure to measure what matters damages our future.”

Ask your board to also reflect on De Pree’s memorable line in his excellent book,
Leading Without Power: Finding Hope in ServingCommunity:

 “In my experience a failure to make a conscious decision about what it is we’re going to measure often causes discombobulation and a lack of effectiveness and a lack of achievement.”

For Christ-centered boards—even more is at stake say Gary G. Hoag, R. Scott Rodin, and Wesley K. Willmer in The Choice:The Christ-Centered Pursuit of Kingdom Outcomes.  They note:
“…defining success may be the most
important decision we make as God’s people.”

QUESTIONS: So how is your “board in the boat” doing? Are you in alignment—moving, at the right cadence, in the right direction? Have you defined Kingdom outcomes? Are you measuring what matters?