The Balance Between Risk and Caution

Risk and Caution

Question:  Whom do you think make the best board members – people who are willing to take risks or people who are very cautious?  Is there a group or profession of people which produces the ideal board member?

Answer:  Both.  A board needs members who can calculate risk carefully.  It also needs people who take seriously their fiduciary responsibility and demonstrate more caution than the risk takers like to see.

Some boards have erred in the direction of reckless and irresponsible “blind faith”.  They have gambled the resources of others and have lost, putting their organizations in financial jeopardy.  Other boards have suffered from analysis paralysis where a group is afraid to take the first step into the unknown.  In this case opportunities for service have been missed and the organization lost the opportunity to make the contribution they were formed to make. Read more

Support at Any Cost?


Question:  Some of our Board members are criticizing our Executive Director far too much.  He has barely completed his first year, and already there is criticism for the major changes he has made.  Can you help me with some reasons to give our Board as to why they should follow the leadership of the Executive Director we have chosen?

Answer:  I most certainly agree that your Executive Director needs your Board’s support.  An Executive Director (or whatever title you give to your Chief Executive Officer) can only function with the authority that comes from the Board.  The Board that has chosen the CEO must provide him with the authorization and resources he needs to fulfill the demanding role of leadership.

The difficult challenge for any board, however, is to define what support is.  Read more

Setting Limits for Length of Board Service

Setting Length of Board Service Limits | GoveranceMatters
photo courtesy of flickr

Question:  We seem to have an “old guard” and “new blood” on our board.  It’s obviously just a matter of time before the power shifts to the new members who want to breathe new life into the Board and the whole organization.  I think this is unnecessary pain we’re going through.  How should a Board handle the length of time a person can serve on a board?

Answer:  First of all, it’s not necessarily the “old guard” that causes the problems that boards can have.  People who have been around a long time can also accumulate wisdom and keep the organization on course.  They don’t only hold to blind obedience to harmful tradition.

Still, the problem you raise is a common one for the same reason that many other problems exist.  Boards don’t deal with problems until they occur.  The solution to the problem of board members dying but not retiring should be solved before there is a problem.  That is done in the Board Governance Manual, if it hasn’t already been covered in the bylaws by the members. Read more

God’s Design of Relationships

God's Design of Relationships |
photo courtesy of flickr

You mention on your website that the Relationship Model™ is patterned after God’s design of relationships in the Bible, but you don’t explain that anywhere.  Can you give me some more insight into the connection between God’s design of relationships and your governance, leadership and management model?

Thanks for asking.  I have been meaning to develop a section on this subject for some time.  You’ve given me the nudge to begin it. Read more