Minutes and Daze

Board Meeting Notes
photo courtesy of flickr

In the course of my work in many countries I get a lot of questions, but one that overlaps all the borders I cross is this one.  If you are asking the same one, I hope this answer will help.

Question: Our Executive Director’s Administrative Assistant recently took over the role of taking board minutes from her predecessor, but she doesn’t have the same gifts for accuracy. Before, we could always assume that the motions were recorded accurately, but now I get the minutes and find they aren’t the same as I thought the decision was that we made. How should we handle this? Read more

Policy Governance Model compared to The Relationship Model

The Relationship Model

Here are some comparisons between John Carver’s work and mine.  First, let me say that I cut my eye teeth on the “Carver Model” in 1989 when he wrote his first book and I was transitioning out of leadership of a mission which I led in founding.  I wanted to prepare the board I worked for to take the load of governance after acting as a cheerleader while I was there.  We chose the Policy Governance Model and hired a consultant trained in that form of governance.  I am very familiar with the PGM.

Carver is the grandfather of not-for-profit governance.  His work has benefited thousands of churches and charities. It is still by far the most widely known and used governance model by a very wide margin.  It is essentially a good approach. It should work for any church or charity. Here are some comparisons.

1. “All cars have four wheels.” the PGM and the RM both have policies as the basis of the model.  Governance by definition requires policies because “Governance is the control and direction of an organization through policy, instead of through direct management.”  Because Carver was first in any practical sense, he had the liberty of naming his model the Policy Governance Model.  In reality all true governance models are policy governance models. Read more

Board Governance eBooks and Training Videos

Board Governance eBook RelationshipModel.com
photo courtesy of flickr

eBooks are the only way to go!

No, they aren’t! I want to hold a paper book in my hands!

There seems to be a lot of passion around books.  From the first Middle Eastern codices to the printed books on Gutenberg’s movable type press, the paper book has a long and highly valued history.  Now the digital electronic age has ushered in a whole new concept in libraries.

For a guy like me who travels the world almost non-stop, eBooks could not have come later.  I almost never take a paper book with me, but I have more than fifty on my Kindle Fire, and many more available from Amazon and other sources.

Now GovernanceMatters.com Inc. has embraced the eBook.  All three of the books I have written on governance of faith-based organizations, values-based organizations, and churches are now available on this site in eBook format. Read more

Assessing Your Working Environment

Assessing Your Working Environment Governance Matters RelationshipModel.com
photo courtesy of flickr

Have you ever had the experience of being really unhappy at work, but you just can’t quite put your finger on the reason?  Or maybe you can easily identify what is causing your frustration or unhappiness, but you are powerless to do anything about it.  Imagine what it would be like if you could identify the problems at work and did have the power to fix a bad working environment.

The Relationship Model will help you to do both.  Here’s how.

There are seven common problems that occur and reoccur in the workplace.  It will help first of all to determine whether one of these is causing your pain.  Naturally, nothing is simple and it is entirely possible that you are experiencing more than one of these problems or something quite unique.  In any case it is likely that what you are experiencing has a root in one of four areas that make up the working relationship.  The formula for a healthy relationship is Healthy Working Relationship = Structure and Process over Values. Read more

How to Select the Right Pastor: Part 2

Role of a Pastor Church Governance Relationship Model

Can you recall the last time your congregation called a pastor?  Remember the process?  Did you wish you had more information so that you could make an more informed decision?  If your situation was like many others, you had some names from the church headquarters.  Some individuals brought forward some names of pastors they knew and respected from previous congregations.  There was speculation about whether various pastors would be inclined to consider an invitation from you.  There was talk about the age of the various pastors and the size of their families.

What was lacking was real information about the specific gifts, interests, experiences and track record of the pastors you were considering.  Finally, there was an honest effort to spiritualize the entire matter.  God would see to it that your congregation would make the right choice.  After all God had already made the choice, right? Read more

Executive Committee – Yes or No


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 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.   Read more

Closed Sessions of the Board

board chair accountability governance

Question:  Recently I have begun to feel uncomfortable with the closed sessions our Board of Directors has been having.  Our Board Chair has now suggested that we have a closed session at every meeting without the CEO or any staff present.  The Board agreed to go along with the Chair, but I don’t think I’m the only one that doesn’t really like it.  What do you think of closed sessions?  Are they right? Read more

Avoiding and Surviving the Perfect Storm, Part Two

Avoiding and Surviving the Perfect Storm in Board Governance Leadership RelationshipModel.com

The fact that visits to my blog more than tripled in a single day when I posted part one of this two-part article is an indication that I touched a nerve.  Good. In this article I want to share how to get out of this mess or better yet how to avoid it altogether.  If you didn’t read part one, you may wish to now so this will have more meaning for you and your board. Briefly, a perfect storm results from abusive use of power with some or all of the seven (or eight) elements that I mentioned in part one meet up with accountability.  That’s the perfect storm.

It’s obvious that the first effort should be to avoid the storm.  The problem is that we tend not to think about storms until we can see them.  What I mean is that almost any structure works when there is harmony and alignment. It’s when there is disharmony and conflict that you see how vague and sloppy your structure is. I have seen so many conflicts develop because of unclear organizational structures.  When there is a lack of clarity on how authority flows, strong leaders behave like two rams (or ewes) going in different directions on a one-way mountain trail. Here’s how to avoid them before you can see them. Read more

The Rogue Board and the Perfect Storm

The Rogue Board and the Perfect Storm RelationshipModel.com board governance

In my fifty years of leadership in not-for-profit organisations, the last fifteen of which is as a governance consultant for more than 200 organisations in two dozen countries, I have seen rogue boards encounter the perfect storm only six times.  That’s only 3%.  It’s rare, but you might be surprised how often the elements that make up this unusual situation appear in otherwise normal organisations.  Take a look at the seven elements that can result in a rogue board encountering the perfect storm.  Then compare these elements with what you are experiencing to assess where your board is heading.

The common characteristic of all these encounters is an abuse of power that is designed to achieve an outcome that results in one person or group within the organisation having more power than is appropriate in a healthy not-for-profit organisation.  It may be encountered in the relationship between the CEO and the Board, the Board Chair and the Board, a Committee and the Board, a Committee and the Membership, the Board and the Membership, and several others. Read more

Today is a Red-Letter Day!

Today for the first time, you can order my three books on governance as eBooks!

This is very significant for several reasons:

First, the cost of each of the eBooks is less than the cost of shipping to any international address. There is no shipping cost!

Second, the time of shipping books to places where shipping takes forever is accelerated to the speed of light.

Third, this makes much more possible my desire to be the governance guru to the world.  My work in Africa over the years has made me realise that boards everywhere are interested in governance and are finding it very difficult to get consulting support.

Now, no matter where you live, all you need is an internet connection to get user-friendly governance consulting.

Follow these links to the three books written for three specific types of boards.  You may order a copy of any of the eBooks for yourself or get a very special price on multiple copies for your whole board.

For faith-based boards – Go to Governance Matters – Governance, Leadership, and Management for Faith-based Boards.

For values-based boards – Go to Not-for-Profit Governance Matters – Governance, Leadership, and Management for Values-based Boards.

For churches – Church Governance Matters – Governance, Leadership, and Management for Churches.

Soon you will also be able to have me visit your board electronically for a live, interactive training session.  Stay tuned to learn how to do that.  In the meantime, let me hear from you how I can support your board and your personal leadership.  I’m right beside you electronically!

Les Stahlke