Friday, December 30, 2011

It Takes a Village to Raise a Board’s Effectiveness

Almost 1,100 CEOs, board chairs and board members participated in the 2011 Governance Survey of ECFA members.  A question on board effectiveness asked, “Give your board a grade for their board work in the last 12 to 18 months.” On a scale of 1.00 to 5.00 (an F equaled 1.00; an A equaled 5.00), CEOs gave an average rating of 3.84 for board effectiveness.

The good news: almost 67 percent of boards were rated “Good” to “Excellent.” The bad news: 27 percent were rated “Average.” Just four boards received “Failing” grades by their CEOs while 19 boards received a “D” (“Danger Zone”).  Bottom line: 33 percent of boards were lackluster at best, according to their CEOs.

Max De Pree, the board chair for many years at Fuller Seminary, says that “the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.”
So what is reality for your board? How effective is your board? And how clear is it that your board sees their work as Christ-centered? While 81 percent of board members said it was “crystal clear” their work was Christ-centered (the best description of five options), only 65 percent of CEOs checked the “crystal clear” box.

There’s no one silver bullet for raising your board’s effectiveness. It takes a village—a thoughtful array of integrated action steps that cover the four arenas of board work: cultivation, recruitment, orientation and engagement.
Don’t let board work overwhelm you or ignore the kingdom implications of mediocre governance. Ask your governance committee to define reality today and then recommend next steps on board effectiveness. Create a life-long learning plan for your board members.  Action steps might include a book-of-the-quarter, governance articles, webinars, video resources, workshops, retreats or self-assessment surveys.

Elton Trueblood said that “pious shoddy is still shoddy.” Ministry effectiveness, however, honors God.

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