Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Best Board Books #3: Best Practices for Effective Boards

Here’s a very helpful Christ-centered governance book—as part of my series on “best board books.”
Pick one that fits your board’s culture and needs.

Book #3: Best Practices for Effective Boards, by E. LeBron Fairbanks, Dwight M. Gunter II, and James R. Cauchenour. Read my review here.

The total years of board leadership and board service for these three co-authors would rival almost any other trio. The best practices have been culled from 1) a lifetime of service as a denominational education commissioner (working with 54 educational institutions in 36 countries), 2) as a board chair and business leader, and 3) as a seasoned pastor/author and board member.

With almost 40 pages covering 11 documents in the appendix, you could skip the book and strike gold in every resource: “Leader Effectiveness Review Grid (22 leadership behaviors),” “Board Standing Policy Manual,” “Rules of the Road for Christlike Conflict Management,” and a “Board Survey” with 22 questions.

Can a book that articulates Christ-centered character standards for board members also meet the high bar of governance excellence? Yes! The guts of the book, 12 chapters, include helpful discussions on:
   • “Ears In, Fingers Out” (great shorthand for the board role)
   • “Take Time” (slowing decision-making down to hear from God)
   • “Yes! to Missional Change” (choose your battles wisely)
   • “Role Models of Generosity and Stewardship” (why board members must set the pace in generous giving and inspiring others to give)

In his chapter, “Yes! to Missional Change,” Pastor Dwight Gunter asks “How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?” His answer: “Seven. One to change the bulb and six to resist the change.” (Insert “How many board members…” and it’s just as funny.)

Co-author LeBron Fairbanks, founding director of BoardServe which serves as a global intervention and coaching resource for boards, shares my favorite quotation in the book—this from a CPA firm: 
“In the long run, only integrity matters.
In fact, without integrity, there will be no long run.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: What is the next book our board should read? What is the next book our staff should read—a book that would help them clear up many of the myths and misunderstandings about the board’s role versus the staff’s role?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Best Board Books #2: The Imperfect Board Member

Over the coming weeks, I’m recommending some of the most insightful books on board governance—some “secular” and some Christ-centered. Pick one that fits your board’s culture and needs.

BOOK #2: The Imperfect Board Member: Discovering the Seven Disciplines of Governance Excellence, by Jim Brown (click here to order from Amazon) - You can read my review by clicking here

Patrick Lencioni wrote the foreword to The Imperfect Board Member and quotes the author: “A greeter at Walmart gets more orientation than most board members ever do.” Too true!

Brown’s seven disciplines of board governance are memorable:
   • Direct
   • Protect
   • Connect
   • Expect
   • Correct
   • Select
   • Inspect

With big print, mind-grabbing graphics, and a story line in the tradition of Ken Blanchard and Patrick Lencioni books, you’ll value the author’s seven disciplines in this leadership fable about business boards, nonprofit boards, and faith-based boards. Interestingly, the “guru” in this fable is a pastor of a large church—and he’s governance-savvy.

Jim Brown, a board consultant (visit Strive!) writes, “The best boards keep their noses in the business and their fingers out!” He adds, “The only way a board can responsibly do its job without meddling is by monitoring very well.” This story tells you how to do that.

Why is this on my “Best Board Books” list? 
   • The story format means your board members will actually read the book.
   • The story is just 156 pages (plus very helpful resources).
   • Memorable one-liners: “Boards don’t need to hear how busy the CEO is—they need to hear about results.”

One bonus: The graphic on page 41 gives the clearest picture of how communication, authority, and accountability work together when board members are also customers. Brilliant.

BOARD DISCUSSION: The author writes, “Beware of the ‘board of protectors,’ because it will focus on minimizing risks rather than maximizing opportunities. Boards must direct and protect.” How would we rate our board on balancing risk and opportunities?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Best Board Books #1: Boards That Lead

Board members and CEOs often ask me to recommend the best book on board governance.
Of course—one size doesn’t fit all. There is no one “perfect” book for every board. It depends on many factors, as Dan Busby and I point out in “Lesson 38: Great Boards Delegate Their Reading” in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom.

How would you rate your current board members’ competencies and experiences?
• Do most have previous board experiences that were healthy (not dysfunctional)?
• Does your board agree where they are on the continuum from Policy Governance® to hands-on boards? 
• Is there alignment with the 10 or more traditional roles and responsibilities of the board?

Your answers would help me suggest the “best” book for you—whether for everyone to read before your next board retreat, or for a quick “10 Minutes for Governance” book review by one board member at your next board meeting.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll suggest some of the most insightful books on board governance—some “secular” and some Christ-centered. Pick one that fits your board’s culture and needs.

BOOK #1: 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

You can read my book review by clicking here. Here’s a taste: Learning boards will discover vast insights and practical next steps in Boards That Lead:

   • Boards should ask new CEOs to draft a succession plan immediately (and the annual self-assessment should measure progress).
   • Caution! Leaders can change dramatically when they get the brass ring.
   • Nothing can make up for the wrong choice of CEO.
   • Ten principles for finding the right CEO (Warning: “Review outside consultants carefully to prevent conflicts of interest.”)
   • In risk management, why quantification alone is a false crutch.
   • The value of a one-pager with agenda/decision highlights sent before every meeting
   • The learned art of what to feed to the board
   • How to coach new board members to stay at the right “altitude” in board meetings
   • How to get maximum value from an advisory council or board (They quote Roger Kenny who says advisory boards are “like the Marines: They get you on the beach.”)

And then this PowerPoint-worthy wisdom: 
“Execution is where management starts and the board stops.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: Is our CEO “feeding us” the appropriate and right amount of information, inspiration, and context for our “heavy lifting” topics prior to each board meeting. What do you appreciate? What would improve this process?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here.