Wednesday, September 16, 2020

LESSON 37 – How Many Board Members Are Present in Your Boardroom?

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. Brian Heerwagen is our guest blogger this week for the second of five lessons in "Part 10: Building a 24/7 Board Culture.” And during this COVID-19 era, 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.

37 OF 40: How Many Board Members Are Present in Your Boardroom?
It’s more than just answering the roll call.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 37, the authors point out it is difficult for board members to be truly focused and “all in” when they are preoccupied by their own lives and workloads outside the board room. Electronic devices are noticeable distractions, but we also inadvertently create an environment for minds to wander—by having meetings that are too long, happen too frequently, or occur in settings that are not conducive to being focused.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 37, pages 198-201:
Whether it is avoiding technological interruptions or addressing other issues that detract from a focused board meeting, finding a way to maximize the total presence of all board members is vital.
• Minimizing boardroom distractions will maximize meeting impact and enhance the possibility of hearing the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. 

Board members join the board because they care about the organization and they truly plan on giving their all to the new leadership position. I love to capitalize on those great intentions from the start.  

During recruiting and all the way through orientation, I express genuine gratitude for all they bring to the board with their many gifts and experiences. But I’m also very candid with them that I expect 100 percent focus in how they do their prep work for board meetings as well as how they contribute during board meetings. 

I share these thoughts with them in the following context: as much as they’ll need to give their all to our board at certain times throughout the year, I am fully aware that there are periods of time in-between our board meetings when they will be liberated from such intense focus on our board—allowing them to give their all to other needs. 

I respect that their involvement on our board is a gift, and I recognize upfront that they wear many hats and therefore have many decisions to make about how to spend time and resources. It is good to set boundaries and permissions that are clear and liberating.

If we have 1) the right number of meetings (not too many), 2) provide all the communication and materials ahead of time, and 3) conduct a tight, power-packed agenda each time, then we have the liberty to require their utmost attention at those times. What a joy to harness the energy and leadership of a great board!


BRIAN HEERWAGEN is the CEO of SOE (Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Missions). He has been on countless short-term ministries and has partnered with nationals and long-term missionaries in 29 countries. Brian has also served on boards as a member, vice chair, and chair. He is the lead author of the collaborative work, The Next Mile, Short-Term Missions for the Long Haul, with more than 30,000 books sold. He has also been a church missions pastor for more than 20 years. Brian is married to Lorraine and they have three married daughters and four grandchildren. They live in Portland, Ore.

• Determine: How many board meetings (how few?) are sufficient, yet will still be power-packed and focused—but without compromising on community and communication?
Inspire: Create an atmosphere of 100 percent focus by encouraging board members to be “all in” in their 1) preparations for the meeting, and 2) while attending the meeting. Then give board members permission to be 100 percent focused on other things when it’s not “our board time.”
Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 37, “How Many Board Members Are Present in Your Boardroom?

Sept. 23, 2020, watch for the commentary by Constantino (Connie) Salios on Lesson 38, “Seven Times When a Board Member Should Bid Adieu. Board service is for a season—but it is not forever!”

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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