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 RelationshipModel.com

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: www.GATEglobal.org). 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 RelationshipModel.com

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 RelationshipModel.com 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

Managing Change

Managing Change RelationshipModel.com concepts of management change management

In today’s fast-moving world the concepts of management and “change management” are synonymous terms.  Adapting to an ever-changing environment in which we attempt to achieve our mission is the predominant concern of all successful organizations.

Managing change effectively requires managers to be able to manage the six core processes that allow an organization to manage change.  This series of articles seeks to introduce the six core processes that allow us to manage change and then to discuss each on in more detail.

Understanding the values that will make each of these processes successful and fulfilling is as important as understanding the processes themselves.  The three primary value systems that we observe in management are authoritarian, collaborative and laissez-faire.  These form a continuum of values.  Where managers will anchor themselves on this continuum of values will determine their success. The articles will demonstrate the effect of each value system on the outcome of each process. Read more

Board Vote Process

Board Vote Process RelationshipModel.com Board Government

Think back to that discussion that went so badly in a board meeting.  Afterwards, you mentioned to someone that you didn’t agree with the board vote.  Your fellow board member said that she didn’t either.  She told you that she voted in favor of the motion because there was so much pressure.  You agreed with her that it would have taken forever to overcome the passionate arguments in favor of the action.  You both just gave up.  In talking to others you begin to realize that the majority of the directors disagreed, but the motion passed anyway.  Can you imagine that?

Why is it that we have all experienced decisions being made by a group that do not reflect the thoughts and decisions of the individuals within a group.  Here are some common reasons why this happens.  Can you identify with any of them? Read more

Meeting Attendance

Board Meeting Attendance RelationshipModel.com board governance

Question:  I chair a board that meets monthly.  The problem we are having is that the attendance at board meetings is irregular.  Because of their inconsistent meeting attendance some of our directors don’t have full awareness of what decisions we have made and why we have made them.  What can I do to get board members to see the importance of attending all meetings?

Answer:  I believe the solution to this common problem lies in the expectations that are expressed to board members when they agree to allow their names to stand for election.  In many cases prospective board members don’t really appreciate the weight of responsibility that board members share.  I have even heard nominees being assured that there isn’t much to being a board member.  There seems to be a fear among some boards that they won’t get people to agree to stand for election if the job is too big.  It’s a mistake to suggest that board members can take their responsibility lightly. Read more

What is Governance?

What is Governance?  What is a governing board?  Board Government Consulting RelationshipModel.com
What is Governance?

Question: I keep reading about managing boards and governing boards, but honestly I’m not sure that I could explain the difference. What is governance?  What is a governing board?

Answer: A governing board is a board that controls the organization by policies instead of a steady stream of management decisions. Governance involves designing board structure and process, directing strategic priorities, delegating authority and responsibility and monitoring and measuring results.

A managing board of a restaurant would spend most of the time in the kitchen stirring the stew and discussing ways to make it taste even better. A governing board would hire a chef to do the cooking. The board itself would spend most of its time talking to the customers about their needs and wants and some time planning the future of their restaurant and some time giving direction about their clientele and their needs (but not management advice) to the chef. They would improve their service by checking with the customers, not by tasting the stew themselves. Read more

Leadership Qualities / Competencies of Leaders

Leadership Qualities Competencies RelationshipModel.com Board Leader

No person makes a perfect leader. There are always ways to improve.

Although the responsibilities of those in leadership vary, there are a number of leadership qualities that are common to all of them. In this series of six articles, we shall look at the leadership qualities that are needed in a Chief Executive Officer, Board Chair and Board Member, Senior Manager and Pastor.

Leadership qualities, or competencies, are aspects of a person that make him or her successful at what he/she does. They are a complex combination of underlying characteristics, being influenced by that person’s values and beliefs, motives, attitudes, personality traits, self-image and attitudes as well as skills and knowledge.

We can determine a person’s competencies by observing their behavior. The more effectively and consistently they display the behaviors associated with the respective competencies, the better their leadership performance. A person’s competencies therefore, are a window through which we can glimpse the person’s capability.

We shall look at these six leadership qualities/competencies: Read more