How many board prospects are in your pipeline—and who is tracking their volunteer work? That's the big idea behind one of the “6 D's” criteria from the ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 1: Recruiting Board Members.
No. 4: Diligent and Faithful Participant
Documented history of fulfilling our volunteer assignments on schedule and under budget. Keeps promises and keeps confidences. Inspires others.
Let's suppose your nominating committee is adding one new person to your board: Mike or Michelle. As you look at the 6 D's, consider which person has a stellar track record in volunteer assignments.
Perhaps in your “dating” strategy over the last 18 to 36 months, you gave both Mike and Michelle opportunities to move towards the center in the circles of involvement.
Mike was named chairman of the Vision 2020 Task Force—yet while he recruited an excellent committee, Mike's weak spot was procrastination. People loved him (the life of the party type), but meeting notices were always late, reports were spotty, and eventually others bad-mouthed his leadership. He also divulged proprietary information. Yikes!
Michelle, however, under-promised and over-delivered. In her volunteer assignment she recruited a trendspotters team of 10 to assess the ministry's assumptions for the Year 2020. She inspired the group to research and write an environmental scan and delivered the report (typo-free) a week before the deadline.
Consider the contrast.Mike began his meetings with a perfunctory prayer and an “inspirational thought” downloaded from the Internet a few minutes before the meeting. Besides the core work, Michelle also recruited an auxiliary prayer team, led the team members in a spiritual discernment exercise, and inspired them to read Ruth Haley Barton's book, Pursuing God’s Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups.
What's the point? Some boards skip the “dating” and due diligence phase and recruit for personality. So the Mike-types (the life of the party people) are invited to join the board and it's only when the board sees Mike's character and competence that buyer's remorse sets in—but then it's too late. He's already on the board—and creating morale problems and more.
Other boards, as part of a God-honoring discernment process, observe potential board members as they serve in the volunteer circle. Then when they find a stunning candidate like Michelle, there is greater confidence that she will fit the DNA of the board and would have high competence as a board member. And when a crisis comes (and it will), the board knows Michelle will approach the problem with spiritual maturity.
QUESTION: How many board prospects are you currently dating and who is observing them, up close, to discern if they meet Criteria No. 4: Diligent and Faithful Participant?