Thursday, May 11, 2017

Called to Serve: SILENCE!

Note: This is No. 15 in a series of blogs featuring wisdom from the 91-page gem by Max De Pree, Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board.

Max De Pree: “Bob Greenleaf…taught me the advantages of a chairperson’s occasionally declaring periods of silence in meetings for reflection, for absorbing conflicting opinions, for respecting an entirely new idea. I highly recommend it.”

When is the last time your board chair called for a period of silence?

In his succinct chapter, “The Role of the Chairperson,” De Pree summarizes the duties, responsibilities, and competencies that good boards should expect of their chairpersons.

“One way to think about this,” notes De Pree, “is to see the chairperson’s role as a needs-meeting job. Just as the organization and its clients have needs to be met, so does the board itself.” And occasionally, a board needs time for silence—to hear from God.

David McKenna’s new book, Call of the Chair, echoes the silence theme. His book brilliantly expands on the board chair’s role and devotes nine short chapters to nine specific roles: 
   • Missionary
   • Model
   • Mentor
   • Manager
   • Moderator
   • Mediator
   • Monitor
   • Master
   • Maestro

McKenna, author of numerous books including Stewards of a Sacred Trust, defines “Mediator” as “guiding the board through the threats of internal and external conflict into the opportunities for resolution, management, and transformation as witness of reconciliation in the Body of Christ.”

In McKenna’s seven-step process for leading through conflict in the “Mediator” chapter, the fifth step is to contemplate. “Every intense discussion comes to a moment when members of a Christ-centered board need to exercise the spiritual discipline of stepping away from the issue and seeking the mind of God. At the call of the chair, a time of silence, a period of prayer, or a recess for solitude give board members the perspective they need.” 

Call of the Chair: Leading the Board of the Christ-centered Ministry is a powerful book (just 119 pages, plus notes) and should be required reading, along with Max De Pree’s book, for every CEO and board chair. (Watch for my review of McKenna’s book in a future blog.)

BOARD EXERCISE: Before (way before!) you entrust the board chair position to the next “likely suspect,” discuss the high bar that both De Pree and McKenna set for the “call” of the chair.

To order from Amazon, click on the title for: Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board, by Max De Pree, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company).

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