Saturday, October 20, 2012

3-Point Talk: Right, Wrong or Inappropriate


Ram Charan’s helpful book for corporate boards, Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask (read my review), is packed with wisdom and caution for nonprofit ministry boards too.  He writes:

“With the right composition, a board can create value; with the wrong or inappropriate composition, it can easily destroy value.”

The decision to invite a new member onto the board will likely be one of the Top-5 (or certainly one of the Top-10) decisions you’ll make in any one year. We should be sobered by Charan’s statement. So how do you spiritually discern God’s voice about new board members?

Use his comments as a three-point outline for a spiritual insight segment at your next board meeting.

#1. With the RIGHT composition, a board can create value. It’s not just having individual board members who are stellar—it’s having the right composition of board members. We don’t want clones, we want chemistry. We want the grandeur of the Body of Christ in all of its richness and gifts (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, etc.) to be at play on our boards. Highly competent look-alikes need not apply.

#2. With the WRONG composition, a board can easily destroy value. I consulted with an organization whose board members were almost entirely from one industry. Ditto many of their donors. They were God-honoring and highly committed to the cause. When that industry’s segment fell on hard times, the organization was forced to merge with another ministry.

#3. With an INAPPROPRIATE composition, a board can easily destroy value. This is more subtle. It might be spiritual or theological (too narrow, too liberal, or too denominational). It might be age or gender-focused (too white, too old, or even too young or too hip). It might be a governance-savvy issue (too many board novices, too fixed on one board model, too “Policy Governance®-oriented,” or not enough experience with the policy function of boards).

Whew! This board stuff is hard work!  Certainly, none of us want to serve on a board where, under our stewardship, we destroyed value and Kingdom impact was diminished. So remember 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”

For more help, order the ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 1: Recruiting Board Members.

QUESTION: What are we doing year-round to ensure that we are recruiting the “right composition” of men and women onto our board?

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