African Proverb

African Proverb The Relationship Model of Board Governance

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

High on the wall of the Johannesburg, South Africa, airport terminal is this African Proverb that has a lot to say about today’s organisations and churches, and the styles of leadership that are so very different.

Many of us admire the “strong leader” who can get things done. Often a pace setter, far ahead of the pack, this leader seems to be able to do what few others can do, and often all alone.

To say that this this kind of leader is my greatest nightmare in my practice of governance consulting may seem inappropriate or offensive. So let me tell you why.

My desire is to help organizations and churches to go far, not fast.  I think that to last for the distance, to realize the vision that lies far into the future, leadership requires more than a strong will and a charismatic attraction.

It takes collaboration.  “If you want to go far, go together.” Read more

Executive Committee – Yes or No

Executive Committee Relationship Model for Board Governance

Have you ever had the experience as a member of an Executive Committee of discussing the board meeting agenda before the meeting of the full board?  Then when the board meets, you discuss it all again with but this time with more people.  Did you ever ask what advantage there was to discussing the same things twice – and coming to the same conclusions?  Imagine designing a process like that!

The bylaws of many non-profit organizations require an Executive Committee.  It’s very common for the bylaws to authorize this executive committee to act on behalf of the Board of Directors between meetings of the board.  Thus it becomes a mini board, vested with the same authority as the full board but for much more of the time than the board itself.  Imagine that.  Read more

Governance Matters Book Review & Testimonial

Board Governance Model Testimony

I was introduced to your book, Governance Matters, in 2011 by Dr. Jason Ferenczi, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on “Governance in International Theological Education” under my direction at Columbia International University. While there is no dearth of professional literature on organizational governance, Dr. Ferenczi noted that your book is unique in its approach to the topic from a distinctively Christian perspective.

Since 2004, I have been involved in the ministry of Global Associates for Transformational Education (GATE, see: In my role as a senior associate of GATE, I have recommended The Relationship Model to theological faculties in the Philippines, India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Togo, and Ecuador. Last July, I also used Governance Matters as a textbook for a Doctor of Education course at Columbia International University on “Leadership and Governance in Higher Education.” Students enrolled in the course are engaged in ministries in Sri Lanka, Chad, Sr. Vincent, Korea, and China, as well as in the United States. They reported your book was the key text (among five) in shaping their thinking about governance and administration in Christian higher education. Thank you for your work and for sharing your thinking on governance theory from a Christian perspective.

Robert W. Ferris, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Columbia International University
Columbia, SC U.S.A.

Decision-making Process


Decision-making is the third core process of an organization.  The manner in which decisions are made within an organization is determined more by the underlying values than by any other single factor.

Successful decision-making results in the important balance between staff fulfillment and client fulfillment (productivity).  And successful decision-making requires also a balance between authority and responsibility.

Let’s first take a look at the effect of various values on decision-making.  In this series, we have been speaking of a continuum of value systems- from the authoritarian values on one end of the continuum to the laissez-faire value system on the other.  In the collaborative center is the relationship value system that produces healthy working relationships and therefore also a healthy decision-making process. Read more

Strategic Planning and Tactical Planning for Organizations

Strategic Planning Tactical Planning Organizational Change Management

Planning is the second core process of an organization.  Planning comes in two types – strategic and tactical.

The Board of Directors is the governing body of an organization.  The basic strategic question that it must ask continually in an ever-changing environment is, “What services shall we offer to which people in which places and in what order of priority?”  The answer to that becomes the strategic plan of the organization.

The board cannot answer this question without being in touch with key stakeholders on a regular basis.  In our view a board should spend a minimum of 50% of its time listening to and learning from a parade of stakeholders coming into the boardroom.  That parade should include clients and customers, donors and funding sources, representatives of the regulatory bodies – government, church leaders, specialists in the fields in which the organization works, etc., partners and “competitors”.

The one who can properly introduce all these stakeholders is the one who likely knows them best – the CEO.  The CEO should involve other senior members of the management team to suggest names of people who can help the board stay in touch with the environment as it changes.  And, of course, senior managers are themselves important stakeholders. Read more

Effective Communication in Change Management

Effective Communication in Change Management leadership change

Communication is the first of six core values that allow an organization to manage change.  It is perhaps the core value, since it is also part and parcel of every other core process.

It is important for a manager to practice effective communication because it is the means by which information is transferred.  Information is one of the basic forms of resource that people need for successful and fulfilling change management.  (The others are people, money, and time.)

Effective communication models the underlying values that a manager holds towards those who look to him/her for authority.  The values that form the basis of the manager’s communication will determine whether those who receive their authority from them will receive the information they need when they need it.  Thus, the expression of those values will determine whether the staff is successful, fulfilled, both or neither.

The core values of the Relationship Model are affirmation, involvement and servant leadership.  When these values drive the manager’s communication process, the information is generous, accurate, and matched to the staff’s own expression of need for information.  The communication process driven by this value system is characterized by a staff that is affirmed in their need to know, involved in determining what information is communicated, and supported in their desire to put information to work. Read more