Monday, July 29, 2019

The Boardroom Lexicon: I, Me, We, Us


What do astronauts, Tour de France cyclists, and great board members have in common?


I’m always looking for governance lessons—and I’ve recently noticed similar phrases—and values—from outer space and the inner circles of cycling teams. We could learn something from them.

This month, our nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. Were you on earth when the Apollo 11 spaceflight reached their destination? It was July 20, 1969 when Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the Moon.

I’ve watched the documentary film, In the Shadow of the Moon, numerous times. (Read my review.) But this one value keeps popping up: We not Me. It was a stunning team effort. Some news reports indicated over 300,000 people had a part in Apollo 11’s success. The astronauts, especially, chose their words carefully: not me, not them, but us and we. “We did it.”

Over the last three weeks, I was up early many mornings to take in the sights, sounds, and heroics of the 2019 Tour de France. Stunning scenery and stunning teamwork! I’m not a cyclist—but I’m captivated by the teamwork and the strategy. So this year, through all 21 stages from Brussels to Paris (July 6-28), I also read the book, Tour de France for Dummies. One team has dominated in recent years (there’s that word again) and the youngest rider ever (just 22) earned the yellow jersey this year, due to the team effort.

So are the values of We and Us alive and well in your boardroom? Or are you on the board to help the CEO with her ministry? Words matter—and you can learn much about the value system of an organization, its CEO, and its board by listening: Lone Ranger Syndrome of the joy of teamwork? 

As Dan Busby thoughtfully observes in our book, More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: Effectiveness, Excellence, Elephants! (coming in September from ECFAPress):

“CEOs must pursue God and focus on abiding in Christ. A major warning sign is when a leader places self-interest ahead of the things of God and the needs of the ministry, evidenced in arrogant language and prideful behavior. 
You will often hear a spiritually healthy CEO say,
‘I serve as CEO,’ not ‘I am the CEO,’
—a subtle but profound indicator of their motivation."

BOARD DISCUSSION: At your next board meeting—listen. Does your boardroom lexicon honor God—and promote teamwork and the essence of leveraging everyone’s spiritual giftedness—or does the tone tilt toward Me rather than We?

MORE RESOURCES: Reid Lehman shares wisdom on this issue in his guest blog, “Serve with Humility and Experience God’s Presence: One board chair creates a holy moment for his CEO Search Committee,” based on chapter 9 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings (Second Edition), by Dan Busby and John Pearson.

INSPIRE YOUR BOARD! Inspire your board members to enrich their governance competencies at the ECFA Excellence in Governance Forums (eight cities, Fall 2019). 

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Power of Passion: It’s OK to Say No!


A leader recently told me that while she had said yes to a volunteer opportunity—she should have said NO!

“Looking back now,” she told me, “I realized I had zero passion for the project. I said yes, but that was a big mistake.”

How many times is this scenario inappropriately played out in your boardroom? Recognize anyone here?
• Your board chair asks Chandler to lead the task force. She’s amazingly effective—but has zero passion for this assignment. She says yes—but has no joy in the task.
• Your CEO needs a board member to represent the ministry at a community event. Roberto is a team player and says yes, but procrastinates in his preparation—and it shows. He didn’t bring his A game.
• Suzanne’s social style is “amiable.” She’s a pleaser and said yes to a last-minute request. Her congeniality exceeds her competence. Another bungled assignment.

Hans Finzel writes “When who we are lines up with the role we are in, then we are in a place of passion.” He urges leaders (and I would add, board members) to say yes ONLY when opportunities fall in the “The Passion Zone.”

In describing the passion zone, Finzel asks: How much does “The Leader” circle (gifts, abilities, strengths, personalities, values, calling) overlap with “The Role” circle (followers, culture, responsibilities, activities, situation, history)?

While his book speaks mostly to organizational leaders, savvy board members will find it immediately convicting also. Board members could use a serious does of Finzel’s transparency:
“The number one issue for me was passion.
My heart was no longer engaged in my job—the fire had gone out.
My heart had left the building.”

Click here to read my review of The Power of Passion in Leadership: Lead From Your Heart, Not Just Your Head, by Hans Finzel (just 73 pages).

Here’s the gut check for board members: does your board service (including your ad hoc assignments) leverage your “3 Powerful S’s” (Spiritual Gifts, Strengths, and Social Styles)? If not, your board work will often be a draining experience. That’s not God’s plan!

What should you do?
• Ask a wise and trusted friend if your board service is adding to Kingdom impact and your joy—or detracting from it.
• Say “NO!” when assignments will not align with your giftedness and passion.
• Say “YES!” when assignments bring you joy and others affirm your passion.

Finzel notes Proverbs 4:23 in the NIV: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: Are we asking the right board members to tackle the right assignments? Are we getting an appropriate number of “no” responses—perhaps meaning board members are telling us the truth about what brings them joy?

MORE RESOURCES: Erika Cole shares wisdom on this issue in her guest blog, “Align Board Member Strengths With Committee Assignments,” based on chapter 25 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings (Second Edition), by Dan Busby and John Pearson.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Beware the Emotional Effects of Transition

I posted this blog in 2016, but based on my governance radar, it's time for a rerun! Enjoy and heed!

If your board has term limits, it's likely you say “farewell and thanks” to one, two, or three board members every year. It might surprise you, though, to understand what each of your departing board members are feeling.

In the bestselling book, Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change, William Bridges writes, “It isn’t the changes that do you in, it’s the transitions. Change is not the same as transition. Change is situational: the new site, the new boss, the new team roles, the new policy. Transition is the psychological process people go through to come to terms with the new situation.”

He adds, "Change is external. Transition is internal."

At a recent board retreat, I challenged board members to pick one major change the organization had negotiated and then to pick one word that described the stage and the feelings that resulted—from their unique perspectives.

Bridges notes that "the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names," and suggests there are three phases of managing a transition: 
   • Ending
   • Neutral Zone
   • New Beginning

The author says it's important for leaders to be alert to the emotions and the psychological impact people experience as they journey through transitions. Perhaps you can reflect on a recent major change you have experienced as a board—and can pinpoint where people are along the journey. According to Bridges, here are the more common emotions in each phase:

   • ENDING: denial, anxiety, shock, confusion, sadness, annoyance/anger, fear, frustration, and cynicism.
   • NEUTRAL ZONE: curiosity, adjustment, exploration, learning.
   • NEW BEGINNING: creative tension, impatience, acceptance, hope or skepticism, relief, excitement, trust, enthusiasm.

One board member at the retreat circled the "sadness" emotion. His board term was ending and he was genuinely sad at the thought of being absent from the table. He spoke warmly of the relationships, the important mission of the organization, and much more.

"Oh, my," I thought. "Other board members often exit with glee—no more meetings, more time for leisure and family, and fewer deadlines. Yet this board member was sad.”

Really—that was wonderful. What a stunning board culture!

By the way, the board did a spectacular job of honoring him and one other departing board member. Well-prepared words. Short thank you videos from staff and clients. Coffee mugs with their top-five strengths from the StrengthsFinder assessment, framed photo collages, and personalized mementos with the organization’s mission statement.

The presentation was poignant and perfect. Oh, my.

The big changes facing your board may be in another realm: CEO succession, program changes, financial crisis, or other challenges. So this is just a reminder that changes produce transitions, and transitions produce emotions—and all of us may be at different levels of moving from the ending, to the neutral zone, to the new beginning.

Note: To go deeper on this subject, read the resource article on Moses, “Getting Them Through the Wilderness,” by William Bridges. Here’s a taste:

“When Pharaoh finally let Moses’ people go, some of them surely thought that the Promised Land was just around the corner. But Moses was not so naive, for he saw that he still had two problems. First, he had to draw a line of no return between the ending and the neutral zone. Second, he had to keep people in the neutral zone long enough for them to be fundamentally changed by the wilderness experience.”

QUESTION: How sensitive are your board members, CEO, and senior team members in recognizing that the decisions you make can trigger a variety of emotions and responses among the staff, volunteers, clients/customers, and donors you serve?

MORE RESOURCES: Al Lopus shares more exit wisdom in his guest blog, "Cut the Cord! Invite Board Members to Exit When They Don’t Live Your Values," based on chapter 31 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson.

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Big Difference Between Micromanaging and Appropriate Questioning

While I’m a big believer in ongoing research, I don’t need a high-priced researcher to answer this question:

QUESTION:
What do nonprofit CEOs whine about the most?

ANSWER:
Board members who meddle and micromanage.

Now before CEOs cast all the blame on one or more dysfunctional board members, please note that sometimes CEOs and senior staff invite those board members into the weeds—unwittingly. Staff that deliver board reports with TMI (too much information), data-heavy PowerPoints, or  nagging problems—with no recommendations—are often too tempting for some board members: “Everyone—grab a rake and start weeding!”

Warren Bird, ECFA’s  vice president of research and equipping, recently reminded me about Ram Charan’s helpful insights in “How Do We Stop From Micromanaging?” (see chapter 13 in Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask. Read my review here.)

Ram Charan gives these guidelines for appropriate questions in the boardroom:
 “The difference between micromanaging and appropriate questioning is not always a bright line. What really defines micromanaging is not whether a director [board member] is digging into details. It’s really a question of which details and for what purpose.”

• “Is the director making a small point, like nit-picking expenses? Or is the director drilling down into the details that help reveal a higher-level issue—detecting a structural change, getting at the root cause of a problem, or questioning the effectiveness of a process?”

“Asking questions of an operating nature is not in itself micromanaging, as long as the questions lead to insights about issues like strategy, performance, major investment decisions, key personnel, the choice of goals, or risk assessment.”

Charan also notes that “not all directors are self-aware.” So when Into-the-Weeds Syndrome is alive and dysfunctional in your boardroom—share this wisdom from Ram Charan and facilitate a healthy conversation on the difference between micromanaging and appropriate questioning.

Consider aligning this discussion with one of your organization’s core values or a Scripture that speaks to the value of listening to the counsel of others, such as Proverbs 11:14. Or, share the “Delegation Prayer” from Richard Kriegbaum’s powerful book, Leadership Prayers, including this:


“By your grace, my leadership will either
enhance or restrain the work of your Spirit in those who lead with me,
making them more effective or less effective.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: What guidelines should we adopt so, in most cases, we can agree on the difference between micromanaging and appropriate questioning?

MORE RESOURCES: Rich Stearns shares wisdom on helping board members avoid the weeds in his guest blog, “Apply for a Staff Position and You Can Deal With That Issue!” based on chapter 20 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Best Board Books: Index to 18 Good Governance Stimulators


Moving on! We’ve squeezed way too many blogs out of this “Best Board Books” series—and it’s time to move on. But first—don’t try to read all 18 books, start with just one. (See the list below.) 

Last week, a board chair emailed me that he’s following the “10 Minutes for Governance” practice suggested in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom (see Lesson 39). Using a governance book that fits their board’s culture and season, each board meeting will feature a 10-minute segment to inspire board members in God-honoring governance. He’s already assigned board members to lead the next four segments.

“Great Boards Delegate Their Reading” is the title of Lesson 38 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. It’s true! So…select one book, appoint an avid reader as your “Leaders Are Readers Champion” and watch boardroom engagement soar.

PICK ONE:

[  ] 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

[  ] Book #2: The Imperfect Board Member: Discovering the Seven Disciplines of Governance Excellence, by Jim Brown
  
[  ] Book #3: Best Practices for Effective Boards, by E. LeBron Fairbanks, Dwight M. Gunter II, and James R. Cauchenour

[  ] Book #4: Stewards of a Sacred Trust: CEO Selection, Transition and Development for Boards of Christ-centered Organizations, by David L. McKenna

[  ] Book #5: Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask, by Ram Charan

[  ] Book #6: Serving as a Board Member: Practical Guidance for Directors of Christian Ministries, by John Pellowe

[  ] Book #7: The Nonprofit Board Answer Book: A Practical Guide for Board Members and Chief Executives (3rd Edition), published by BoardSource

[  ] Book #8: The Practitioner's Guide to Governance as Leadership: Building High-Performing Nonprofit Boards, by Cathy A. Trower

[  ] 
Book #9Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board, by Max De Pree (Check out the 30-blog series here.)


[  ] Book #10: Good Governance for Nonprofits: Developing Principles and Policies for an Effective Board, by Fredric L. Laughlin and Robert C. Andringa
  
[  ] Book #11: Boards That Make a Difference: A New Design for Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations, by John Carver

[  ] Book #12: Call of the Chair: Leading the Board of the Christ-centered Ministry, by David L. McKenna

[  ] Book #13: Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability, by Jeanne Bell, Jan Masaoka and Steve Zimmerman

[  ] Book #14: Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t – Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0, by Verne Harnish 

[  ] Book #15: Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings, (Second Edition), by Dan Busby and John Pearson

[  ] Book #16: The Council: A Biblical Perspective on Board Governance, by Gary G. Hoag, Wesley K. Willmer, and Gregory J. Henson

[  ] Book #17: Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson

[  ] Book #18: Humility, by Andrew Murray

BOARD DISCUSSION: Toss this C.S. Lewis zinger to your board—and discern if your ministry is on the right road. In The Council (Book #16), the authors quote Lewis’ insight from Mere Christianity:

“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” 

MORE RESOURCES: Kent Stroman, guest blogger for Lesson 38 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, notes this from the U.S. Navy Seals, “Under pressure you don't rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That's why we train so hard.” Check out the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, including Lesson 38, “Great Boards Delegate Their Reading.”

Monday, February 25, 2019

Best Board Books #18: Humility


Picture this familiar scene. You’re at your board’s annual retreat. Beautiful setting. Good coffee. Energetic facilitator. Praying for a bold vision.


“How about this for our new vision statement?” An engaged board member (with good handwriting) proposes a new BHAG and writes it on the flipchart:

“Big HOLY Audacious Goal!
By 2025, to be the leading global ministry in discipleship
and recruit 100,000 pastors as ambassadors.”

Really?

Book #18: Humility, by Andrew Murray
(Order from Amazon)

Over the years, I’ve collected hundreds of mission statements, vision statements, and BHAGs. I’ve helped boards and senior teams craft these important written aspirations. Some are stunning in their brevity and clarity. Others are…well…amusing

Frequently though, the first draft tone needs a strong dose of humility. Does God really call our organization to be the “leading global movers/shakers” of anything? I think not.

Hence, I encourage your board to read this 59-page gut-check from Andrew Murray. I was reminded of its importance again in a recent board meeting—when a board member presented his “10 Minutes for Governance” snippet on "Lesson 9: Serve With Humility and Experience God’s Presence” from Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom.

He began, “Why isn’t Lesson 9 the first lesson in this book?” Ouch!

Andrew Murray (1828-1917) was a South African Dutch Reformed pastor and Christian leader who authored 240 books and devotional writings. Murray writes:

• “Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue.”

• “The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is its lack of humility.”

“Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure.”


• “Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God, and allows Him as God to do all.”

• “The truth is this: Pride may die in you, or nothing of heaven can live in you.”

• “No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang.”

Maybe…take a page from Mt. Hebron Missionary Baptist Church. Their aspirational statement nails it: “We’re into what God is up to.” I like it!

So…share Andrew Murray’s book with your board members. But this caution: every page convicts. 

BOARD DISCUSSION: Andrew Murray writes, “…humility towards men will be the only sufficient proof that our humility before God is real; that humility has taken up its abode in us; and become our very nature; that we actually, like Christ, have made ourselves of no reputation.” What does this mean to you? What’s the balance between pride and humility when we tell our organization’s story in publications, brochures, donor letters, and ministry presentations?

MORE RESOURCES: Check out the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, including Lesson 9, by guest blogger Reid Lehman, “Serve with Humility and Experience God’s Presence.”

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Best Board Books #17: Lessons From the Church Boardroom


Raise your hand if—in addition to serving on a nonprofit ministry board—you’re also serving on the board at your local church. If so…that’s good news and bad news.

Good News. Your expertise and experience from your nonprofit board is often welcomed by your pastor and church board.

Bad News. In your church board meetings, you may pick up some bad habits—and further exacerbate one of the most common church boardroom dysfunctions: micro-managing.

Book #17: Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson (Order from Amazon)

Similar to the book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, this hot-off-the-press book for church boards features 40 short lessons in 10 irresistible categories including: 
   Part 1: The Powerful Impact of Highly Engaged Boards
   Part 2: Boardroom Tools and Templates
   Part 3: Nominees for the Church Board Member Hall of Fame
   Part 4: Epiphanies in the Boardroom
   Part 5: Boardroom Bloopers
   Part 6: Boardroom Time-Wasters, Trouble-Makers, and Truth Tellers
   Part 7: Boardroom Best Practices
   Part 8: Boardroom Worst Practices
   Part 9: Building a 24/7 Board Culture
   Part 10: Boards That Lead

Be sure to read “Lesson 8: Thrive With Four Kingdom Values”—helpful for both church and nonprofit boards. The subtitle: “Pastor Carlos said he didn’t have the spiritual gift of church board meetings!” If you’re on that church board—what would you do?

Another must-read is “Lesson 22: Big Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand.” Dan and I note that “Church boards have a natural gravitational pull toward issues that should be reserved for the church staff.”

Using the classic Stephen Covey story about a seminar instructor with a gallon jar, fist-sized rocks, small pebbles, sand, and water—this lesson reminds boards to address the “big rocks” first—or there will be no time or space left if you focus on the pebbles and sand issues. The two-word metaphor—when used judiciously with discernment—can be uttered by any board member when the agenda goes off course:

“Mr. Chairman—I’m wondering—is this a BIG ROCK issue?
If not, maybe the staff could address it?”

Lessons From the Church Boardroom is very, very practical—and the very short chapters will inspire your church board members to actually read the book—and focus on God-honoring governance. A friend who chairs the elder board at his church just ordered 30 copies (visit ECFAPress for bulk pricing).

The book launched this week—along with a “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentary series with 40 guest bloggers. Read the blog for Lesson 1 here, “Wanted: Lifelong Learners.”

And check out these other resources:
·       --Overview of the book from Your Weekly Staff Meeting eNews
·       --ECFA Knowledge Center: read Lesson 1 online.
·       --The book’s webpage (download the table of contents)

BOARD DISCUSSION: Lesson 22 quotes Aubrey Malphurs: “The board is to hold the church to its biblical ministry direction… The problem for churches is that they tend to get lost in ministry minutiae and thus are sidetracked from their mission.” So how effective is your church board at focusing on its biblical mandate and “big rocks”—and avoiding conversations about pebbles and sand?

MORE RESOURCES: Check out the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, including Lesson 23, by guest blogger Steve Moore, "Focus on Mission Impact and Sustainability."

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Best Board Books #16: The Council












What does the Bible say about board governance? That’s the weighty (but short and sweet—just 106 pages) commentary on what board members can discern from biblical and historical councils, such as the Council of Moses, the Jewish Councils, the Gentile Councils, and the Jerusalem Council described in Acts 15. It took three notable leaders/thinkers to tackle this topic. And beware—it’s convicting!

Book #16: 
The Council: A Biblical Perspective on Board Governance, by Gary G. Hoag, Wesley K. Willmer, and Gregory J. Henson (Order from Amazon)

Gary Hoag, Wes Willmer, and Greg Henson thoughtfully and biblically draw from deep wells of discernment about governance in this new resource from ECFAPress. Gratefully, the theology is well balanced with practicality. Example:

We believe that no governing board of a Christ-centered church or ministry wants to become a case study of disaster. No such council wants the story of their oversight to report how they morphed from governing like the Council of Moses to ruling and controlling like the Sanhedrin to maintain its place in society. The truth is, it could happen to any board.” Yikes!

The authors—with impeccable credentials from other gems like The Choice and The Sower—urge boards to practice four disciplines of what they call the “council model.” The four practices: Scripture, Silence, Sharing, and Supplication. This may seem like a no-brainer at first, but—honest now—when was the last time you experienced intentional silence in your boardroom? The Council quotes Richard Foster:

“Silence frees us from the need to control others. One reason we can hardly bear to remain silent is that it makes us feel so helpless. We are so accustomed to relying upon words to manage and control others. A frantic stream of words flows from us in an attempt to straighten others out. We want so desperately for them to agree with us, to see things our way.”

Foster concludes with this poke: “We evaluate people, judge people, condemn people. We devour people with our words. Silence is one of the deepest disciplines of the Spirit because it puts a stopper on that.”


The authors warn about four snares of the Sanhedrin and four pitfalls of the Gentile Councils: 1) Selecting people of status, 2) Employing a ruling and controlling posture, 3) Being lovers of money, and 4) Pride. On the latter they note, “…to preserve their grip over their people they had the smug audacity to bring forward bogus testimonies.” Whew!

Board service is a high calling but Hoag, Willmer, and Henson remind us—it can get messy. “To share Moses’ burdens meant the seventy would voluntarily inconvenience themselves and put the needs of the people ahead of their own.”

That’s not a bad board prospect recruitment pitch—to test the humility and character of possible nominees: “Maria—we ask our board members to ‘inconvenience themselves’ as they steward God’s work at our ministry.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: The authors list 20 “Hard Questions” (plus a nine-page study guide) that can be addressed one per board meeting—or multiple questions, perhaps, at a board retreat. Example: “Does the [board] have a selection process that prioritizes candidates for the role of [board member] based on Christian maturity and administrative gifting and that protects against scheming and exploitation?”

MORE RESOURCES: Check out the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, including Lesson 39, by guest blogger John Walling, “Invest ‘10 Minutes for Governance’ in Every Board Meeting.” Order The Council and ask a board member to share a 10-minute review/taste at your next board meeting.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Best Board Books #15: Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom (Second Edition)


Would you trust a surgeon who stopped learning? How about a board member who stopped learning? What’s the “Gold Standard Question” to ask after every board meeting? These questions and more are answered in the just published second edition of my pick for Book #15.


Book #15: 
Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings, Second Edition (Dec. 2018), by Dan Busby and John Pearson
(Order from Amazon)

I confess. Recommending a book I co-authored might seem a tad promotional—but only half-promotional, maybe? Since Dan Busby wrote 20 lessons and I wrote 20 lessons, I can guarantee that at least half of the book (Dan’s half) will serve you well.

The updated Second Edition of the book is now available—with new material and fewer typos. If you missed the first edition, read my review here.

The second edition is subtitled, “40 Insights for Better Board Meetings,” and we’re confident that the format—short lessons with three action steps per lesson—will enrich your board meetings and your God-honoring governance experiences.

Lesson 3, “Break Bread, Not Relationships” (added to this second edition), reminds boards to slow down and focus on three characteristics of healthy boards:

#1. EATING With Intentionality. “Breaking bread together as a board takes time, yes, but meals also slow the pace of board meetings (a good thing) and provide time for relationship building.” We remind you that “food fuels fellowship and fellowship fuels deeper relationships.”

#2. ENJOYING deeper relationships. We quote the poignant line from Jerry and Mary White’s book, To Be a Friend: “A friend is one who walks in when others walk out.” We add, “Pray and work for that level of relationship authenticity on your board.”

And then this caveat: “While we don’t recommend stocking a board with close friends of the CEO—here’s the dilemma: healthy boards ultimately enrich relationships and thus board members do become close friends many times. That should be expected and enjoyed.”

#3. ELIMINATING all distractions. Here we address how devices (iPhones, etc.) exacerbate boardroom dysfunctions—and why some boards commit to device-free zones to keep attention focused on God’s work. We quote Dr. John J. Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and author of the bestseller Brain Rules, who notes: “Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth.”
That’s the three-point sermon in just one of the 40 lessons in the new second edition of
Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. We pray it will inspire your board!

BOARD DISCUSSION: In his classic book, Leadership Is an Art, Max De Pree warned leaders “to recognize the signals of impending deterioration.” Has your board sprinted to the agenda—and bypassed eating together and enjoying deeper relationships? Has that accelerated God’s work—or is a warning sign of impending deterioration? 

MORE RESOURCES: Check out the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, including Lesson 29, by guest blogger David Curry, “Think and Pray Outside the Box—and the County.”