Saturday, August 25, 2012

Musical Chairs

If we are to spiritually discern God’s direction, as board members, how important is it that we really know each other?

If your board meets four times a year, and a new member just joined the board—how long should it take before you know what makes her tick? How does she make decisions? Like a Driver (“Any decision is better than no decision!”)? Or like an Analytical (“No decision is better than the wrong decision!”)?

Last month we talked about Ruth Haley Barton’s new book, Pursuing God’s Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups. Is it possible that we can pursue God’s will together—if we really don’t know each other?

Here’s an idea, one of seven, from a recent online article, “Creating a Great Board of Directors,” by David K. Rehr, Adjunct Professor at George Washington University. His suggestion:

“Alternate board seating arrangements so directors are constantly developing new relationships. We often think that all directors know each other and are familiar. But, in reality, their busy professional and personal lives often make it difficult for them to really get to know to each other. Mixing where people sit allows the board to get to know each other better.”

Picture your last four board meetings. Hank sits there. Jane sits there, and don’t even try to separate Julio and Hans!  This fix doesn’t need 12 steps: just two:
   #1. Admit that we are powerless to change our seating routine on our own.
   #2. Ask your board chair to intentionally move board name cards around the table—so at each meeting you’re sitting next to a different board member.

And…no extra charge…here’s an idea that I picked up from Mark Holbrook, current board chair of the ECFA Board of Directors.  At ECCU (where he serves as president and CEO), team member bring their name cards to every meeting. Each name card lists that person’s Top-5 Strengths from the Gallup Organization’s StrengthsFinder assessment.

Imagine how that simple tool would help your board members learn a little more about Jane—and what makes her tick!

QUESTION:  Would a “musical chairs” exercise help your board members develop more meaningful and deeper relationships with each other? Would that help all of you, in turn, get on the same page as you spiritually discern God’s direction for your organization?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Your Board’s Fair Share of the World’s Burden

One of my favorite devotional books is John Baillie’s remarkable one-million-copy bestseller, A Diary of Private Prayer. The format is surprisingly simple: 31 morning prayers and 31 evening prayers, each just one short page.

On the 19th of last month, I was reflecting on the governance challenges of Christ-centered organizations and…wham! A portion of that morning’s prayer got my attention:

“O Lord of the vineyard, I beg Thy blessing upon all who truly desire to serve Thee by being diligent and faithful in their several callings, bearing their due share of the world’s burden, and going about their daily tasks in all simplicity and uprightness of heart.”

I have never heard a ministry CEO, or senior pastor, or board chair or board member ask or pray about this profound question. “As we consider our calling and the mission God has led us to, what exactly is our fair share of the task?”

I have observed ego-driven over-achievers bite off too much. I have watched many board members shrink back from opportunity (and risk) when maybe God was calling them to exercise faith muscles. I have seen many board members become overwhelmed and exhausted. (Hardly God-honoring.)

How many of us really get it right—a holy balance in bearing our due share of the world’s burden?

QUESTION: Has your board ever had this discussion? Good policy starts with prayer and God-directed thinking.