Monday, June 27, 2016

Even Your Board Members Are Changing Their Thinking!

Judges 2:10 is a good wake-up call for boards:
“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.”

Whether your board has term limits, or not, all boards struggle with passing the mission/vision/values/history/strategy/culture baton from one year—and one board meeting—to the next. Some members miss meetings. Other members are new. News flash: even some members forget!

I’ll be at a board planning retreat next month and all of us are reading Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World, by Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell. (We’re also reading the headlines: Orlando, San Bernardino, Brexit, Supreme Court decisions…and a lot more.)

We’ll be drilling down on the book’s implications for our roles as board members—such as why moving from “complicated to complex” will require a “robust and resilient” response, per McChrystal. We’ll also address this year’s book within the context of the last two books we’ve read:
   • The Attacker's Advantage: Turning Uncertainty Into Breakthrough Opportunities, by Ram Charan
   • 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.

I get it! Some of your board members might wince or whine at the thought of reading yet one more book. Team of Teams is not easy reading (300 pages), but if the title temps you, be assured that every chapter is compelling.

When’s the last time your board has read a book together? Trust me—as you steward your ministry’s future, one book a decade is not enough. Leaders are readers.

My friend and mentor, George Duff, served 27 years as president of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce—and he quoted to me (often!) this pithy rationale for lifelong learning—and the speed of change, "You're Leading a Parade!"

If your board has a reading culture—this reminder: Your new board members didn’t read the last book. Some of your board members have forgotten what the last book said. Perhaps several board members now disagree with what the last book said.

So…yes, keep reading to determine what the board should know and do—so you’re thinking, praying and reflecting to spiritually discern God’s direction for your important ministry.

QUESTION: What’s the next book our board should read together?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Criteria for the Nominating Committee’s Pipeline

Good news! I observed a board meeting recently—and the nominating committee invited board members to suggest names for their “prospect pipeline.” 

Bad news! I observed a board meeting recently—and the nominating committee invited board members to suggest names for their “prospect pipeline.” 

More bad news! In the absence of agreed-upon criteria, suggestions will quickly descend into the sub-basement of nominating dysfunction. “I’d like to nominate Jennifer. She’s a friend of a friend of my Cousin Eddie—and she’s wealthy.”

The solution? Before you begin “dating” a board prospect (plan on a 12-month to 36-month process), discern the criteria you’ll use to evaluate a prospect’s suitability as an effective steward of your ministry.

Begin with the “6Ds Criteria” listed in the ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 1: Recruiting Board Members—Leveraging the 4 Phases of Board Recruitment. (Click here to order from ECFA.)

The 6 Ds include: 
   • Discerning Decision-Maker
   • Demonstrated Passion
   • Documented Team Player
   • Diligent and Faithful Participant
   • Doer (walks the talk)
   • Donor (see Matthew 6:21)

As you discern your board’s unique culture, you’ll want your pipeline criteria to reflect your unique DNA. For example, at a recent board meeting (the one board I serve on), I suggested we add three “virtues” to our list of board prospect criteria.

“Humble, Hungry, and People Smart” are the three attributes described in Patrick Lencioni’s latest business fable, The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate the Three Essential Virtues. While the book is directed to teams in the workplace, the three virtues are no-brainer qualities we want in future board members.

Here are my “board edits” from Lencioni’s definitions:

HUMBLE: Great board members lack excessive ego or concerns about status. Humility is the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a board member. (And I’d add several more lines from Andrew Murray’s book, 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.”

HUNGRY: Hungry board members almost never have to be pushed by the board chair to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent.

SMART: Smart simply refers to a board member's common sense about people (other board members, the CEO, staff, volunteers, donors, and our customers/clients).

So…how about generating some good news at your next board meeting? “Our nominating committee suggests the following criteria for future board members. To recommend a candidate, please complete the ‘Board Member Suggestion Form’ to discern if that person meets our agreed-upon criteria.”

QUESTIONS: What criteria should be added when suggesting names for your board prospect pipeline? Is “humble” on your list? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Your Ministry’s Most Precious Commodity?

Yesterday I heard a political consultant note that the primary role of a U.S. presidential campaign manager is to leverage the candidate’s very limited time.

It made me wonder—should more boards focus on how CEOs steward their time? Who’s watching and weighing in to ensure that the CEO does ONLY what the CEO should do (not tasks/roles others could do)? 

My opinion: I agree with board members who often whisper to me in the boardroom hallway, “Our CEO doesn’t delegate enough.”

Warren Buffet famously said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘NO’ to almost everything.”

(Sorry for the side alleys and meandering paths I’m taking today, but—stick with me—and I’ll get us to the destination.)

The authors of The Presidents Club would also agree. They write, “The most precious commodity of the United States of America is neither the gold bullion in Fort Knox nor the launch codes in its ballistic missiles. It is the time of the commander in chief: there is only so much of it, and how it is spent shapes pretty much everything else.”

So what is the appropriate role of the board in staying high enough to govern effectively (and not micro-managing), but savvy enough to discern how their CEO is stewarding her time? A good place to start: get board agreement on the topics, metrics, and S.M.A.R.T. goals that should be addressed in the CEO’s monthly report to the board.

Next, inspire your CEO to have a hands-open posture (high transparency) and regularly seek the counsel and wisdom of the board.

As a young CEO in my first year of what is now called Christian Camp and Conference Association, I asked my board this: “I can’t visit every camp and conference center in all 50 states, should I visit any in my first year?” 

Their answer surprised, but also blessed me: “No! Unless the visit involved board or committee meetings or regional gatherings.” That counsel removed a huge burden. In my 11 years at CCCA, I ultimately did visit dozens and dozens of member camps—but my wisdom-filled board gave me permission to focus first on our agreed-upon highest priorities.

One more idea: In What You Do Best in the Body of Christ: Discover Your Spiritual Gifts, Personal Style and God-Given Passion, Bruce Bugbee, shares a convicting question from a colleague:
“Why are you doing what others can do,
when you are leaving undone
what only you can do?”

Psalm 90:12 reminds us, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

QUESTION: How effective is your CEO at numbering his or her days—and how best could you be helpful, without micro-managing?