Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Do You Need a Consultant or a Pastor?

This revelation may shock my colleagues and clients—but not every governance issue can be solved by a consultant or a new book.

Those of us with platitudes, PowerPoints, and preachy epistles on best practices, need to take a breath occasionally and take a boardroom backseat—and just listen. (Yes, I’m looking in the mirror.)

Listen for heart issues, not just health issues. Listen for pain, not just problems. Listen for God’s voice, not just the loudest voice. 

Let me explain. 

Independent Sector has just declared there are 33 principles for good governance and ethical practice. The short version is available free as a two-page PDF.  The 86-page reference edition, Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice: A Guide for Charities and Foundations, is sold online.

Don’t misunderstand. It’s good stuff!  The 33 principles are organized into four major categories: Legal Compliance and Public Disclosure, Effective Governance, Strong Financial Oversight, and Responsible Fundraising. Here’s a taste:

  • "8. A charitable organization must have a governing body that is responsible for reviewing and approving the organization’s mission and strategic direction, annual budget and key financial transactions, compensation practices and policies, and fiscal and governance policies."
  • "24. A charitable organization should spend a significant amount of its annual budget on programs that pursue its mission while ensuring that the organization has sufficient administrative and fundraising capacity to deliver those programs responsibly and effectively."

But wait! Before you lead your board down one more governance resource path (“the management by bestseller syndrome”), take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Is our most fundamental problem organizational or spiritual?” 

Do You Need a Consultant—Or a Pastor?” describes my memorable experience leading a governance workshop.  When a CEO whined about his board and asked me a very, very long question—the Lord nudged me to share a very short answer. (The board needed a pastor.)

I’m just saying. Of course—keep reading the literature, but slow down. Listen to the underlying issues in your boardroom conversations. 

QUESTION: Do you need a consultant—or a pastor? 

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