Monday, January 19, 2015

What If…Every Board Member Wrote 5 Thank You Notes?

On a coaching call with a leader recently, he astounded me with his teachable spirit—and his pedal-to-the-metal approach to my recommendations.

I had suggested he read the powerful and convicting book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: Discover the 20 Workplace Habits You Need to Break, by Marshall Goldsmith with Mark Reiter. 

He’s reading it! But…he stopped on page 159. “Why?” I asked.

He responded, “because the author suggests we think about the people who are most responsible for our success.” Then the author adds, ‘Write down the first 25 names that come to mind.’ And then ask, ‘Have I ever told them how grateful I am for their help?’”

The author’s command: Before turning the page and reading the next chapter, start writing those 25 thank you notes!

I was on the phone with this leader, but if I’d been in the same office with him, I would have whipped out a Starbucks gift card—with warm affirmation for his heart and his actions. And just imagine—the heartfelt response he’ll receive in the days ahead from the 25 people who receive those notes.

I know you know what’s coming next!

At your next board meeting, bring notecards, envelopes and stamps—and ask every board member to write five or more thank you notes—on the spot—to the people that are responsible for the success of your ministry. (Your CEO can have names and addresses ready, if needed.) Who are the people that should be thanked?
   • Former board members
   • Former CEOs and staff
   • Donors (both major donors and faithful month-every-month donors)
   • Volunteers
   • Your friends in the media
   • Government officials who care about your work
   • Pastors and supporting churches
   • Who else?

Goldsmith adds, “This isn’t just an exercise in making yourself and other people feel good (although that’s a worthwhile therapeutic). Writing a thank you note forces you to confront the humbling fact that you have not achieved your success alone. You had help along the way.”

Richard Kriegbaum writes in Leadership Prayers that “the board of the organization is not just the ultimate legal entity; it is also the ultimate means of God’s grace and blessing on the organization.” And I would add, when the board, in turn, blesses your organization’s stakeholders, it will have profound meaning and Kingdom impact!

QUESTION: Is expressing gratitude and appreciation part of your board’s culture? Would this exercise help or enhance that heart?

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