Wednesday, January 22, 2020

LESSON 3 – The Productivity Payoff of Intentional Hospitality

Welcome to More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, More Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Rick Alvis is our guest blogger this week for the third of four lessons in "Part 1: The Powerful Impact of Highly Engaged Boards.”

LESSON 3 OF 40 - The Productivity Payoff of Intentional Hospitality
Create hospitable and productive board environments. 

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 3, the authors note that it is highly important for a board to get to know one another in order to make board meetings even more productive. Board meetings are likely more productive if board members know where others are coming from.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 3, pages 13-19: 
• When boards fail to take the time and effort to nurture hospitality and a productive environment…mission-focused governance can naturally become lost.
It is important to discern who on your board or staff is specially enabled by God to practice hospitality—use them. 
• Max De Pree: “Many people seem to feel that a good board structure enables high performance. This is simply not so. What’s crucial is the quality of our personal relationships. The [board chair] and the [CEO] set the tone for good relationships….”  

Not until I read this chapter had I ever thought about boardsmanship and how it relates to hospitality. Board meetings are for business. In my mind hospitality happened outside the board meeting. Not so. Hospitality can start in the boardroom and hopefully expands further outside the boardroom. Nurturing strong personal relations inside and outside the boardroom is of high importance. This includes working seriously at the growth, needs, and potential of board members—and not just the board members, but the CEO as well. 

Creating an impactful board agenda can keep a board meeting fresh. Unfortunately, some boards have fixed agendas—and don’t you dare challenge it or change it! Max De Pree’s “Bell Curve of a Board Meeting” makes lots of sense. Keeping critical agenda items in the high energy part of the meeting ensures meaningful engagement. We can structure our board meeting agendas more creatively—and thus maximize the time in our meetings when members are most productive.

Saying thanks to the board and practicing servanthood are also of utmost importance. De Pree says it well: “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The second is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become servant and a debtor.” Leaders need to remove the cap of arrogance, and instead, wear the cap of humbleness, learner, and servant. 


RICK ALVIS is President/CEO of Wheeler Mission Ministries, Indianapolis, Ind. He has served the homeless and addicted for 40 years. He began his career with the Evansville Rescue Mission where he worked for 13 years before coming to Wheeler Mission in 1990. In his tenure in Indianapolis, he has directed a path of growth and outreach to the neediest citizens of Indiana, increasing the number of services offered and extending programs to men, women, and children. Under his leadership, three organizations have merged with Wheeler Mission in order to provide more effective care for Hoosiers in need of vital services. Setting Wheeler Mission on a solid financial path has allowed Wheeler Mission to expand programs and the number of staff by growing a balanced budget from around $650,000 in 1990 to over $15 million in 2019 and an increase in staff from 16 in 1990 to nearly 200 today.

Rick has served Citygate Network (formerly the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions) in several capacities, including Secretary/Treasurer, Vice Chairman, and Chairman of the Board from 2003–2009, the longest serving Chair/President in the Association’s history. He has served on the Board of Directors of ECFA as Secretary and is a 2016 Sagamore of the Wabash recipient.

• Review your next board agenda closely. Are you allowing for hospitality, such as providing space for board members to get to know one another? 
• Is prayer just bookends to the meeting? Or, do you pause during the meeting to pray for people, pray for events, and give praise to the Lord for what He is doing through this ministry?
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 3: "The Productivity Payoff of Intentional Hospitality.”

NEXT WEDNESDAY: On Jan. 29, 2020, 
watch for the commentary by Wes Willmer on Lesson 4, “Guarding Your CEO’s Soul. Wise boards invest time—up front—to ensure their CEO’s soul is not neglected.”

BULK ORDERS: Click here. For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

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