Wednesday, May 6, 2020

LESSON 18 - Warning! Resumé-Builders Make Lousy Board Members

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. Gordon Flinn is our guest blogger this week for the second of three lessons in "Part 5: Boardroom Bloopers.” And during this COVID-19 crisis, the role of the board becomes even more critical. We pray that your board will have God-honoring wisdom as you spiritually discern next steps.

LESSON 18 OF 40 - Warning! Resumé-Builders Make Lousy Board Members 
He envisioned how board service would look on his resumé.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 18, the authors note that clarity and fit are vital for board recruiting and development.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 18, pages 104-106:
The part of this lesson that hit me between the eyes (and in my heart) is in the suggested prayer:
• “Kingdom Builders vs. Slot Fillers,” a reminder of God’s ways versus our ways
• Eternity vs. Today
• Relationship vs. Task
• Wisdom vs. Haste…. Slow Down to Speed Up.

Further, mission and motives are important when considering board prospects and evaluating current board members.

An organization’s capacity to achieve its mission is linked to the combination, horsepower, and teamwork of what the board and CEO can accomplish together. Most organizations focus on the attracting, developing, evaluating and, if necessary, the redeploying of the CEO. Many organizations would increase their mission capacity and effectiveness by strategically and intentionally investing in their board recruiting and development. Too often, as the authors convey, board member recruiting and development processes are treated as secondary tasks, incidental to operating, rather than leading, the organization. 

Mission fit matters. Motives matter. Both relate to the reason for doing something. Essentially, they answer the “WHY” question. Why this organization? Why now? Why would we consider this person for a board position? Why me (from the prospect’s perspective)? 

Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, “Start With Why,” is focused on mission. The board is responsible for the organization’s mission. The mission fit of any and every board member is critical to effectively leading the organization and achieving its mission. 

Once the WHY questions are answered, the WHAT questions follow. Clarity of expectations, meeting frequency (and location), expertise, position descriptions and more. The conversation should include the roles and responsibilities of the board member (governance), being an active ambassador/volunteer, and generous donor. 

The pool of prospective board members should be actively built over time and be deep enough that answering the WHY and WHAT questions either disqualify or cause some prospects to opt out of serving before they start. While this mindset seems counter-intuitive in a busy culture with board prospects seemingly in short supply, the sustainability of the organization depends on a more intentional longer-term approach. Finally, will the addition of this person strengthen the board, and by extension, the organization? If so, lean into the opportunity together. 


GORDON FLINN is the President/CEO of GoForth Consulting. He notes, “Capacity, Effectiveness and Culture are three stewardship gears for personal, team and organizational (missional) impact. Integrating and leveraging each driver creates the foundation for strategy and execution to optimize results.” Click here to visit the GoForth Consulting website. 

• Pray for Wisdom
• Upgrade your board recruiting and development processes by implementing the suggested Board Action Steps. 
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 18, “Warning! Resumé-Builders Make Lousy Board Members.”

On May 13, 2020, watch for the commentary by Dave Semmelbeck on Lesson 19, “Beware the Phone-Book-Size Report. My 84-page PDF landed with a thud.”

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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