Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Best Board Books #3: Best Practices for Effective Boards


Here’s a very helpful Christ-centered governance book—as part of my series on “best board books.”
Pick one that fits your board’s culture and needs.


Book #3: Best Practices for Effective Boards, by E. LeBron Fairbanks, Dwight M. Gunter II, and James R. Cauchenour. Read my review here.

The total years of board leadership and board service for these three co-authors would rival almost any other trio. The best practices have been culled from 1) a lifetime of service as a denominational education commissioner (working with 54 educational institutions in 36 countries), 2) as a board chair and business leader, and 3) as a seasoned pastor/author and board member.

With almost 40 pages covering 11 documents in the appendix, you could skip the book and strike gold in every resource: “Leader Effectiveness Review Grid (22 leadership behaviors),” “Board Standing Policy Manual,” “Rules of the Road for Christlike Conflict Management,” and a “Board Survey” with 22 questions.

Can a book that articulates Christ-centered character standards for board members also meet the high bar of governance excellence? Yes! The guts of the book, 12 chapters, include helpful discussions on:
   • “Ears In, Fingers Out” (great shorthand for the board role)
   • “Take Time” (slowing decision-making down to hear from God)
   • “Yes! to Missional Change” (choose your battles wisely)
   • “Role Models of Generosity and Stewardship” (why board members must set the pace in generous giving and inspiring others to give)

In his chapter, “Yes! to Missional Change,” Pastor Dwight Gunter asks “How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?” His answer: “Seven. One to change the bulb and six to resist the change.” (Insert “How many board members…” and it’s just as funny.)

Co-author LeBron Fairbanks, founding director of BoardServe which serves as a global intervention and coaching resource for boards, shares my favorite quotation in the book—this from a CPA firm: 
“In the long run, only integrity matters.
In fact, without integrity, there will be no long run.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: What is the next book our board should read? What is the next book our staff should read—a book that would help them clear up many of the myths and misunderstandings about the board’s role versus the staff’s role?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Best Board Books #2: The Imperfect Board Member


Over the coming weeks, I’m recommending some of the most insightful books on board governance—some “secular” and some Christ-centered. Pick one that fits your board’s culture and needs.

BOOK #2: The Imperfect Board Member: Discovering the Seven Disciplines of Governance Excellence, by Jim Brown (click here to order from Amazon) - You can read my review by clicking here

Patrick Lencioni wrote the foreword to The Imperfect Board Member and quotes the author: “A greeter at Walmart gets more orientation than most board members ever do.” Too true!

Brown’s seven disciplines of board governance are memorable:
   • Direct
   • Protect
   • Connect
   • Expect
   • Correct
   • Select
   • Inspect

With big print, mind-grabbing graphics, and a story line in the tradition of Ken Blanchard and Patrick Lencioni books, you’ll value the author’s seven disciplines in this leadership fable about business boards, nonprofit boards, and faith-based boards. Interestingly, the “guru” in this fable is a pastor of a large church—and he’s governance-savvy.

Jim Brown, a board consultant (visit Strive!) writes, “The best boards keep their noses in the business and their fingers out!” He adds, “The only way a board can responsibly do its job without meddling is by monitoring very well.” This story tells you how to do that.

Why is this on my “Best Board Books” list? 
   • The story format means your board members will actually read the book.
   • The story is just 156 pages (plus very helpful resources).
   • Memorable one-liners: “Boards don’t need to hear how busy the CEO is—they need to hear about results.”

One bonus: The graphic on page 41 gives the clearest picture of how communication, authority, and accountability work together when board members are also customers. Brilliant.

BOARD DISCUSSION: The author writes, “Beware of the ‘board of protectors,’ because it will focus on minimizing risks rather than maximizing opportunities. Boards must direct and protect.” How would we rate our board on balancing risk and opportunities?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Best Board Books #1: Boards That Lead


Board members and CEOs often ask me to recommend the best book on board governance.
Of course—one size doesn’t fit all. There is no one “perfect” book for every board. It depends on many factors, as Dan Busby and I point out in “Lesson 38: Great Boards Delegate Their Reading” in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom.


How would you rate your current board members’ competencies and experiences?
• Do most have previous board experiences that were healthy (not dysfunctional)?
• Does your board agree where they are on the continuum from Policy Governance® to hands-on boards? 
• Is there alignment with the 10 or more traditional roles and responsibilities of the board?

Your answers would help me suggest the “best” book for you—whether for everyone to read before your next board retreat, or for a quick “10 Minutes for Governance” book review by one board member at your next board meeting.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll suggest some of the most insightful books on board governance—some “secular” and some Christ-centered. Pick one that fits your board’s culture and needs.

BOOK #1: Boards That Lead: When to Take Charge, When to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way, by Ram Charan, Dennis Carey and Michael Useem

You can read my book review by clicking here. Here’s a taste: Learning boards will discover vast insights and practical next steps in Boards That Lead:

   • Boards should ask new CEOs to draft a succession plan immediately (and the annual self-assessment should measure progress).
   • Caution! Leaders can change dramatically when they get the brass ring.
   • Nothing can make up for the wrong choice of CEO.
   • Ten principles for finding the right CEO (Warning: “Review outside consultants carefully to prevent conflicts of interest.”)
   • In risk management, why quantification alone is a false crutch.
   • The value of a one-pager with agenda/decision highlights sent before every meeting
   • The learned art of what to feed to the board
   • How to coach new board members to stay at the right “altitude” in board meetings
   • How to get maximum value from an advisory council or board (They quote Roger Kenny who says advisory boards are “like the Marines: They get you on the beach.”)

And then this PowerPoint-worthy wisdom: 
“Execution is where management starts and the board stops.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: Is our CEO “feeding us” the appropriate and right amount of information, inspiration, and context for our “heavy lifting” topics prior to each board meeting. What do you appreciate? What would improve this process?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Try “Stoppage Time” at Your Next Board Meeting

The 2018 World Cup has captivated my mornings over the last two weeks and I’m not even a soccer guy (or should I say “football” guy—for my friends outside the U.S.). 

One quick note, while I can still utter this: “Go Sweden!” (As of today, Sweden is one of 16 teams in the knockout stage which starts on June 30. Win or go home.)

If you’re a soccer neophyte like me, you’ve appreciated the fast-moving game and the absence of TV commercials, time-outs, or interruptions in either half (45 minutes each). The reason: stoppage time. But then—try to explain “stoppage time” to your spouse or water cooler colleagues. 

Google “stoppage time in soccer” and you’ll gain some insight. “Because there's no time allotted for…commercials and the advertising fare that clogs up most American sports broadcasts, soccer games consist of 90 straight minutes of unfettered gameplay. But, that gameplay is almost always interrupted by injuries, substitutions, and the occasional rogue pitch invader. That means, to account for the unforeseen stoppages in play, a few minutes are added at the end of each half. Longer stretches are usually tacked on to the end of the game, typically resulting in an extra three or four minutes on top of the standard 90.”

That got me thinking. What if your board chair instituted stoppage time at your next board meeting? “Well, it’s 5 p.m., and time to adjourn, but I’ve tracked stoppage time and I’m adding on another 23 minutes because…”
   • “Frank, you took us down a very unproductive back alley when you went from policy issues to operations. Your in-the-weeds side trip wasted seven minutes.”
   • “Maria, I clocked your point of order at 10 minutes. Your question was helpful, but then Kim, Cameron, and Angela all piled on with unnecessary speeches and nothing was resolved.”
   • “Steve, as our CEO, you give us great leadership. But next time, please coach your VP so she stops reading her reports to the board. We had all read the report before the meeting, so that six-minute rendition was unnecessary.”

“So, board members, I’ll use the next 23 minutes to help us focus on our agreed-upon top priority this year—the XYZ Project. Meet in groups of two or three for eight minutes and then report back on the discussion question written on our white board.”

I know. I know. This might cross the line from good governance to picky governance. But…you get the point. Ephesians 5:15-16 reads, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (NASB).

Named by ESPN as the Greatest Coach of the Twentieth Century, UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden said it simply, “Time lost is time lost. It’s gone forever.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: At the end of your next board meeting, read this tongue-in-check blog to the board and then ask for feedback. Did we steward our time well today? How did we measure up to John Wesley’s aspiration? "I value all things only by the price they shall gain in eternity."

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Succession Planning: 11 Principles (Index to 11 Blogs)


Note: Below is a click-and-read index to 11 recent blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.

But…before you click and read below, note this one last insight from the international bestseller, The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter (Updated and Expanded), by Michael Watkins.

“S.T-A.R.S.”
Board members should discern not only what CEO competencies they need for the next few years, but what kind of situation their new leader will inherit. Michael Watkins says there are four broad types of organizational situations—and there are risks. For example, a veteran CEO of a “Sustaining Success” organization may not be effective in a “Turn-Around” opportunity.

Start-up: “Building structures and systems from scratch without a clear framework or boundaries.”
Turn-Around: “Reenergizing demoralized employees and other stakeholders.”
Realignment: “Dealing with deeply ingrained cultural norms that no longer contribute to high performance.”
Sustaining Success: “Playing good defense by avoiding decisions that cause problems.”

OK…now click, read, and review the 11 principles featured in the last 11 blogs. Enjoy!

1) Principle No. 1: Avoid Buses and Boredom! -  “My Heart Had Left the Building”

2) Principle No. 2: Discern Your Board’s Succession Values and Beliefs - “Appointment Without Anointment Always Led to Disaster”

3) Principle No. 3: Inspire Your CEO to Thrive With a God-Honoring Lifestyle – “Is Your CEO Thriving or Just Surviving?”

4) Principle No. 4: Model Successful Succession in the Boardroom First - “’One Size Fits All’ Is Bad Counsel”

5) Principle No. 5: Delegate Succession Planning to the Appropriate Committee – “The Ongoing Continuous Process”

6) Principle No. 6: Invest in Growing Your Leaders (Every Leader Needs a Coach) – “Does Your CEO Need a Coach?”

7) Principle No. 7: Trust God and Discern Direction! Wisdom on Ending Well - “Wise People Know When to Quit”

8) Principle No. 8 - Plan for Plan A: Your CEO Retires - “Do I Still Have Fire in My Belly?”

9) Principle No. 9 - Plan for Plan B: Your CEO Resigns – “The Five Stages of CEO Abandonment”

10) Principle No. 10 - Plan for Plan C: Your CEO Is Terminated – “Hire Slower and Fire Faster”

11) Principle No. 11 – Discern If a Search Firm Would Be Helpful – “Differences Between Search Firms”

BOARD DISCUSSION: List one principle you are well-prepared for. List one principle that needs more attention by the board. Pray and discern!

TO DO TODAY: Download the Facilitator Guide and inspire your executive committee (or governance committee) to review the toolbox materials. Remember: every CEO is an Interim CEO! 

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Succession Planning: Decide If You Need a Search Firm


Note:
 This is the eleventh (and final) blog of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.


Principle No. 11 - Discern If a Search Firm Would Be Helpful

The toolbox materials list three options for conducting a CEO search:

   • Option #1: Retain a Search Firm
   • Option #2: Retain a Consultant/Coach
   • Option #3: Conduct Your Own Search

But heed this warning from the authors of You’re Not the Person I Hired!—a very helpful resource: “When you are tempted to rush a hire, think in terms of Return on Investment over the course of years, not months.”

Boards of larger organizations that rely on retained search firms for senior level positions will often engage a firm to conduct their CEO search. Just as organizations have unique cultures and methodologies, so retained search firms will have unique approaches for your important search. Interview at least three firms.

In his article, “Differences Between Search Firms,” Bruce Dingman suggests that the firm selected should find at least four candidates to be considered. His article outlines other factors to consider:
   • Ethical issues and “out-of-bounds” and “off-limits” industry practices
   • Reputation of the firm versus the recruiter
   • References of the recruiter
   • Pros and cons of specialists versus generalists
   • Speed versus quality
   • Cautions about saving time with a recruiter’s “short list”
   • Importance of pre-recommendation reference checking
   • Recruiters’ experience with search committees

As your board reviews the resources in the toolbox, don’t skip the spiritual discernment process—which takes time. And time is a significant issue for busy board members. But note this counsel from Michael J. Lotito: “If you spend a lot of time figuring out who you’re going to hire, you’ll have to spend far less time figuring out who to fire.”  

BOARD DISCUSSION: When our CEO exits (Plan A, Plan B, or Plan C), are we confident that we will make the search firm decision (see the three options above) based on God’s leading and our mission and vision? Or will our budget parameters push us in the least desirable direction? 

TO DO TODAY: Download the Facilitator Guide and inspire a board member to review the numerous resources, books, and articles on selecting a search firm and interviewing candidates.

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Succession Planning: Hire Slower and Fire Faster



Note:
 This is the tenth of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.


Principle No. 10 - Plan for Plan C: Your CEO Is Terminated

What do board members fear the most? They fear having to terminate a CEO on their watch. The common wisdom is “Hire slower, fire faster.” But few follow this counsel in nonprofit organizations. Even fewer in nonprofit ministries.


We want grace to abound. We serve the God of second chances (third, fourth, and fifth chances!). But the day may come—for any number of reasons—when you’ll need to terminate your CEO. And here’s the problem: there’s no board member course on “7 Principles for Exiting Your CEO.” (Who would sign up for that one?)

The board’s most important role is to ensure that they have the right CEO in place. Ram Charan emphasizes this in Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask:


“There is nothing more important for a CEO than having the right strategy
and right choice of goals, and for the board, the right strategy
is second only to having the right CEO.”

When it’s time for a CEO to exit, it’s time for board members to execute their fiduciary and spiritual duty. No one, except the board, has this God-given stewardship responsibility.

BOARD DISCUSSION: “Never hire anyone you can’t fire,” warns Donald Rumsfeld in his treasure chest of wisdom, Rumsfeld's Rules. At your next board meeting—with the CEO in the room—have a frank discussion about what conditions might be present that would require the board to exit the CEO. Ensure that the discussion is healthy and helpful.

Sometimes the lack of humility in a CEO is mentioned as one of the contributing factors (or is a foundational character flaw) that causes boards to terminate a CEO. For preventative work on this issue, read the blogpost, “Serve With Humility and Experience God’s Presence,” and Patrick Lencioni’s insights in The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues. (Guess what? Humility is one of the three virtues.)

TO DO TODAY: Download the Facilitator Guide and inspire a board member to review the helpful checklists for “Plan C.” Remember: every CEO is an Interim CEO. 

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Succession Planning: The Five Stages of CEO Abandonment



Note:
 This is the ninth of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.


Principle No. 9 - Plan for Plan B: Your CEO Resigns

Surprise…and maybe shock! While you thought your CEO would serve until retirement, today she called your board chair to announce her resignation! 


CEOs exit for many reasons:
• God’s call to another ministry
• Transition back to a previous career or organization
• Burnout or boredom
Lack of passion
• Illness or family challenges
• Geographical and/or weather preferences
• “Pounding the same nail” one too many years
• Out of alignment with the board’s vision
• Failure or position mismatch
• Theological disagreements

You likely have other reasons to add to this list.

Boards will often have a sense of abandonment. The timing is rarely perfect. Some board members will experience one or more of the five stages of loss and grief popularized by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

As you’re negotiating this transition, heed the counsel from author William Bridges, who notes that “the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.” He lists three phases of managing a transition: the ending, the neutral zone, and the new beginning. 

Boards will be alert to these phases during a CEO succession process. For more, read Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, by William Bridges, and read my blog post, “Beware the Emotional Effects of Transition,” about the 22 emotions that your board might experience along the continuum—from denial to enthusiasm.

Warning and Reminder! How boards and CEOs negotiate the delicate dance of honoring each other will be observed by staff, volunteers, stakeholders, givers, and the community. (Not to mention your next CEO recruit!) What an opportunity to be God-honoring!

BOARD DISCUSSION: True or False?
1. We have board-approved policies that address CEO succession.
2. As a board, we are experienced at spiritually discerning God’s voice—and we will not need to learn this competency in the middle of a crisis.

TO DO TODAY:
Download the Facilitator Guide and inspire a board member to address how you’ll respond to a “Plan B” scenario. Remember: every CEO is an Interim CEO. 

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Succession Planning: “Do I Still Have Fire in My Belly?”


Note:
 This is the eighth of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.


Principle No. 8 - Plan for Plan A: Your CEO Retires

News Flash! Your CEO will retire someday, as will the senior leaders reporting to the CEO. Healthy boards and healthy CEOs address these facts of life well in advance. Effective boards take time for prayer, discernment, and considering God-honoring options. The toolbox resources for “Plan for Plan A” include helpful questions so boards and CEOs can address the elephant in the room. 

Example:
“We have clear expectations and written annual goals (with annual performance reviews) for our CEO to prevent ‘coasting’ into retirement.”
• “Our CEO already has a healthy and balanced life outside of work so retirement will not be a shock to the system.”

Even if your current CEO is relatively young, effective boards help CEOs plan for their inevitable retirement. David McKenna counsels, "Succession begins before we assume a position of leadership, not when we get ready to leave it.”

In the next two blogs, we’ll discuss Plan B—your CEO resigns, and Plan C—your CEO is terminated. Given three choices, Plan A is a joy to address!

When should a CEO retire or resign? McKenna says “timing is everything” when discerning when to leave a ministry. CEOs should ask themselves, “Do I still have fire in my belly for the future of this organization?”

In The Leader’s Legacy, McKenna notes three questions from Peter Drucker:
   • What needs to be done?
   • Can I do it?
   • Do I want to do it?

Download the Facilitator Guide and inspire a board member to address this common elephant in the room at your next board meeting. Remember: every CEO is an Interim CEO. 

BOARD DISCUSSION: One retirement option for your CEO might be to launch a second part-time career (consulting, teaching, writing, etc.). Would our board be open to our CEO beginning what Bob Buford, author of Halftime, labeled “low-cost probes” into a new venture while still employed here?

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Succession Planning: “Wise People Know When to Quit”


Note:
 This is the seventh of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.


Principle No. 7: Trust God and Discern Direction! Wisdom on Ending Well

Here’s a gut-check: “Does our board regularly practice spiritual discernment for fork-in-the-road decisions, or are our prayer practices more superficial than transformational?”


When your CEO retires, resigns (or if necessary, is terminated)…does your board have a culture and adequate competencies for spiritually discerning God’s voice? A time of crisis is a very bad time to play catch-up on how to hear from God.

Don’t wait until the eleventh hour of a succession planning crisis to get on your knees. Practice spiritual discernment early and often! But note this caution from Ruth Haley Barton in Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership: Seeking God in the Crucible of Ministry:

“It is also important to involve the right people. One very common leadership mistake is to think that we can take a group of undiscerning individuals and expect them to show up in a leadership setting and all of a sudden become discerning!”

A board with spiritual discernment radar will also have wise counsel for their CEO regarding exit plans. In his book, Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Move Forward, Dr. Henry Cloud quotes Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” Cloud, a leadership coach and clinical psychologist, also adds, “Wise people know when to quit.”

When boards help their CEOs end well at the right time and in God-honoring ways, they build a healthy foundation for God’s next leader.

The Facilitator Guide includes a resource from Ruth Haley Barton with ten guidelines for “entering into and maintaining a listening posture.” It’s a powerful list!  

Check it out here: 


DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

BOARD DISCUSSION: Does our board regularly practice spiritual discernment for fork-in-the-road decisions, or are our prayer practices more superficial than transformational?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Succession Planning: Does Your CEO Need a Coach?

Note: This is the sixth of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.

Principle No. 6: Invest in Growing Your Leaders (Every Leader Needs a Coach)

Bill Conaty and Ram Charan preach this memorable one-liner in their powerful book, The Talent Masters: Why Smart Leaders Put People Before Numbers:

“Only one competency lasts.
It is the ability to create a steady,
self-renewing stream of leaders.”

These two business leaders list 12 “Leadership Pitfalls” in The Talent Masters, including “not developing your own succession plan.” Boards should memorize the list and be alert to staff members practicing this pitfall: “’Running for office’—which is totally transparent to everyone else.”

So on your journey towards succession plan readiness—how high is your board setting the bar on these two big ideas?
   1) Grow your CEO.
   2) Inspire your CEO to grow leaders.

I know. I know. The daily to-do list pushes succession preparation way down. Critical budget needs leave inadequate funds for leader development. Stop! Reflect! Pray! Consider this wisdom:

CFO to CEO:
“What happens if we invest in developing our people
and then they leave us?

CEO:
“What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

Or this from Jack Welch, quoted by Jeff McManus in Growing Weeders Into Leaders: Leadership Lessons from the Ground Level“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

Or this from Paul to Timothy: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2, NIV)

Principle No. 6 includes four discussion ideas for inspiring your CEO to grow—so when succession happens, your next CEO will take the baton of a healthy, God-honoring organization. 

Check it out here: 


DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

BOARD DISCUSSION: Does your CEO need a coach? According to Soderquist Leadership, “92% of executives who received coaching said they would be willing to be coached again.”

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Succession Planning: The Ongoing Continuous Process


Note:
 This is the fifth of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.


What committee or task force owns short-term vs. long-term succession planning?

Principle No. 5: Delegate Succession Planning to the Appropriate Committee lists three tips so you’ll keep succession planning on your year-round agenda.

Tip No. 1: There is a substantial difference between executive transition and succession planning. As Nancy Axelrod notes in her very helpful resource, Chief Executive Succession Planning, the first is “an intermittent event that is time-line driven,” while the latter is “an ongoing continuous process that boards (with the help of their chief executive) implement.”

Tip No. 2: Assign succession planning to the committee or task force that fits your board culture. One size doesn’t fit all—but consider what committee will have high competence in discerning your on-going process, but can also spring into action when an executive transition occurs (by design or default).

And this reminder: emergency transitions are a very bad time to begin learning how to spiritually discern God’s voice. Build some spiritual discernment exercises into your board work now—not when the crisis hits.

Tip No. 3: Provide your committee or task force with resource materials on succession planning. Four books are listed in the materials. Order all four and delegate your reading:

Stewards of a Sacred Trust: CEO Selection, Transition and Development for Boards of Christ-centered Organizations, by David L. McKenna (ECFAPress)
Chief Executive Succession Planning: Essential Guidance for Boards and CEOs, by Nancy R. Axelrod (BoardSource)
Boards That Lead: When to Take Charge, When to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way, by Ram Charan, Dennis Carey and Michael Useem (Harvard Business Review Press)
NEXT: Pastoral Succession That Works, by William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird (Baker Books)


Principle No. 5 includes “Five Critical Next Steps” for your board to address, including: “If outside help or counsel is needed (a volunteer, a board coach, or consultant, for example), does the committee have the authority to retain necessary assistance? (What is the budget?) 

Check it out here: 

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

BOARD DISCUSSION: "Are there appropriate board-approved succession policies to guide the work of the Succession Planning Task Force?"

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Succession Planning: “One Size Fits All” Is Bad Counsel


Note:
 This is the fourth of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.


Randon Samelson’s helpful book on biblical strategic planning describes a leadership succession plan that actually worked!

Breakthrough: Unleashing the Power of a Proven Plan outlines a six-step plan from 1 Chronicles 28-29. That passage is the narrative for King David’s baton pass to his son, Solomon, that included the blueprints to the temple. The result? The temple was completed. Solomon thrived. Outgoing CEO David did not whine in the background.

Skip the six-step plan, warns Samelson, and you’ll face at least three problems when approaching givers. (And you must keep donors in mind in your succession planning.)

But note: the David to Solomon succession plan is just one plan—it’s not the only plan. “One size fits all” is bad counsel. Check out Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and Paul and Timothy (2 Timothy 2:2).

Principle No. 4: Model Successful Succession in the Boardroom First also reminds us: “As the board goes—so goes the organization.”

While boards expect their CEOs and senior team members to have stellar succession plans in place, it’s rare when boards excel at their own succession planning. The best boards anticipate their future leadership needs and build board succession planning into their DNA.

Principle No. 4 lists three aspirations on board succession, including: “We are developing a quality ‘pipeline’ of likely board prospects so when relocation, death, or the incapacitation of a board member requires filling an unexpired term, we are ready.” 

Check it out here: 

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

BOARD DISCUSSION: While certain biblical examples of leadership successions are not necessarily prescriptive for your unique situation, what are some foundational biblical principles you can glean from David and Solomon or Paul and Timothy or others?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Succession Planning: Is Your CEO Thriving or Just Surviving?

Note: This is the third of 11 blogs featuring practical wisdom from the new ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning. Free to ECFA members, you can download the resource and video by clicking here.

Dr. Richard Swenson suggests you deactivate your home answering machine, or record this message:


“Please wait for the beep and hang up.” 

He says we need more margin (and less phone interruptions) in our lives. He defines “marginless” in his must-read classic, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.

Marginless is fatigue; margin is energy.
Marginless is red ink; margin is black ink.
Marginless is hurry; margin is calm.
Marginless is anxiety; margin is security.
Marginless is culture; margin is counterculture.
Marginless is the disease of the new millennium; margin is the cure.

“Margin” is a big idea in the third of 11 principles in the new ECFA Governance Toolbox on succession planning: “When your CEO’s lifestyle…is characterized by workaholism (often self-induced), an inappropriate physical condition or habit, a plateaued spiritual life, excessive travel, an out-of-whack work/family life balance, and other unhealthy practices—your leader’s tenure will often be shorter than God’s plan.”

Principle No. 3: Inspire Your CEO to Thrive With a God-Honoring Lifestyle asks: Is your CEO thriving?  

“An effective succession planning process begins by ensuring that your board invests time (and accountability) in CEO care. When your CEO lives and models a God-honoring and healthy lifestyle, he or she will likely serve your ministry longer with greater faithfulness and fruitfulness. And potential internal candidates will already affirm and practice this core value.”

William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird, co-authors of NEXT: Pastoral Succession That Works, begin their book with this profound alert: “Every pastor is an interim pastor.” And we would add, “Every CEO is an interim CEO.”

Vanderbloemen and Bird recommend that boards create sabbatical policies, mandate vacations and day offs, and inspire leaders to be in accountability groups. They examined almost 200 pastoral succession case studies. “Too many successions are on the heels of a moral or financial failure. And nearly every one of those failures happened because the [leaders] were (a) tired and (b) didn’t have anyone to talk to about their personal fatigue.”

Principle No. 3 lists six policy considerations and three questions on thriving. Check it out here:

DOWNLOADECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4: Succession Planning – 11 Principles for Successful Successions: “Every CEO is an Interim CEO.” The toolbox includes 
   • Read-and-Engage Viewing Guide (20 pages) – photocopy for board members
   • Facilitator Guide (10 pages)
   • 4 short videos (4-5 minutes each)
   • Additional resources and succession planning tools

BOARD DISCUSSION: Reflect on the theological implications of “every CEO is an interim CEO.” Will our CEO leave when he or she is thriving, or just surviving?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit BoardroomClick here.