Tuesday, June 24, 2014

3 Mantras to Ban from the Boardroom

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

Variations of this idea have been attributed to numerous leaders across history (none of them admired today).  Yet I’ve noticed a tendency—even in Christ-centered organizations—to repeat, repeat and repeat various mantras. After time, most people have bought in—even if the mantras or axioms are not even biblical. Examples:

#1. The Three W’s: Work, Wisdom and Wealth.  This one suggests that a board member is doing well if he or she contributes just one of the three W’s: work, wisdom or wealth. Where’s that in your Bible?  

John Frank, author of the quick-reading 55-page book, Stewardship as a Lifestyle: Seeking to Live as a Steward and Disciple, explains it this way:

“Some may believe that if you give time as a volunteer then you do not need to be a financial donor to the organization.  While all gifts of time, leadership and volunteering are appreciated, there is no measurement system in scripture to allow a gift of one type to cancel the need to grow in one’s holistic stewardship.”

#2. Ask the Busiest People to Serve—They Get Stuff Done.  This mantra must be banned from the boardroom!  Increasingly, many boards are finding that the busiest people are too busy.  They don’t: attend board meetings consistently, do the homework, engage deeply as stewards of God’s work, or—ahem—answer their emails. 
Is Not Godliness!

My personal pattern is not prescriptive for anyone else—but I limit my board service to just one board at a time. Others serve on only two boards. Maybe in full retirement a gifted person can serve on three or more boards—but calendar conflicts will be inevitable. Board service must be a faith trip, not an ego trip.

#3. We Don’t Need an Annual Board Self-Assessment Survey. The ingredients for this common myth are part ego, part arrogance, and part negligence.  Skipping an opportunity for every board member to weigh-in on board effectiveness is short-sighted.  At best, perhaps the board is too busy with non-essentials. At worst, perhaps the board is not open to a discernment process when the Lord can speak into areas of Christ-centered governance that need improvement.

Peter Drucker wrote, “Self-assessment is the first action requirement of leadership: the constant resharpening, constant refocusing, never really being satisfied.” 

QUESTION: What other board mantras are you living by, perhaps unintentionally, that are neither biblical nor healthy?

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