Friday, August 30, 2013

27 Years – 27 Board Chairs!

One of my mentors, George Duff, served 27 years as the president of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.  Imagine this—he served under 27 board chairs in 27 years!  We first met in the 1970s when he was an adult Sunday School teacher at the church we attended in the Seattle area. I quickly invited him onto the board of the Christian camp I served.

Through my ministry years, I stayed connected to George because his counsel was, and still is, always wise and laser-like. On his office wall at the Chamber, he featured an anonymous quotation which he repeated frequently:

“You never get to the point where everybody knows your story, where there is no more criticism. Remember, you are talking not to a crowd but to a parade that is changing all the time. You must communicate with all the marchers—young people are growing up, new people are assuming the burdens of the old, different people are moving into your area, even the same people are changing their thinking.”

Board members come and go. It's a parade.  Your new members didn't attend last year's new board member orientation.  Your new board members don't know your acronyms, your tribal stories, your annual S.M.A.R.T. goals, your strategy, or your sacred cows. (And they don't know that Hank has been sitting in that corner chair for 17 years! Don't sit in Hank's chair!)

Your next board chair is a new relationship. Last year's chair was an Analytical. Your new chair is a Driver. (Time to re-read the social styles book!) 

The next parade of board members will bring new insights, new wisdom and new dysfunctions. It's hard work bringing new people up-to-speed—but it's important work.

Judges 2:10 reports, “Eventually that entire generation died and was buried. Then another generation grew up that didn't know anything of God or the work he had done for Israel.” 

“Remember, you are talking not to a crowd but to a parade that is changing all the time.” George Duff conducted board chair orientation 27 times! Wow.

QUESTION: How will your inspire and remind your board members (and especially your board chair) to view their colleagues around the table as part of a parade, not a crowd? 

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