Friday, June 20, 2014

Board Angst Over Symptoms Versus Diseases

The CEO in the back of the workshop room shared a painful problem:

“I have several long-term board members who ignore our term limits and creatively manipulate our nominating process so they can stay on the board. They don’t trust me or the next generation—they’re just stubbornly hanging on.”

“So here’s my question,” he continued. “Could a consultant help us deal with this?”

I was about to help this CEO with my standard term-limits speech—but the Lord nudged me. I paused and prayed silently.  These are the simple words the Holy Spirit put to voice:

“You don’t need a consultant.
You need a pastor.”

All board work is messy.  Governance in Christ-centered organizations is even more challenging. We have high expectations. We expect board members to do the right thing, with the right motivation—always in a God-honoring way.

Yet, we’re sinful.

In addition, too often, we have angst (and even verbal fist fights) over symptoms—and never get to the disease. If you ask the wrong question, you’ll get the wrong answer.

Symptom: Unexcused absences prompt more attendance rules.
Disease: Lack of board member engagement is actually due to the absence of compelling agenda issues to address. A board member wonders, “Why am I needed?”

Symptom: Micro-managing board members.
Disease: A dysfunctional focus on tactics versus strategy. No agreement on the ministry’s mission, vision and core values. No strategic planning process.

Symptom: Never enough money.
Disease: No spiritual discernment process. The board approves CEO plans that are based on what The Choice describes as “the common path” versus the “kingdom path.” The organization is over-committed, not under-funded.

You get the idea. Do you need a consultant or a pastor? You must move past the symptoms and address the disease. Or as Max De Pree, former chairman and CEO of Herman Miller, and a seminary board chair, wrote,
“The first responsibility of a leader
is to define reality.”

QUESTION: What are the three biggest challenges your board is now facing? Are you addressing the symptoms or the disease? How are you defining reality?

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