Governance Matters Book – Values-Based Edition

Governance Matters Book Values-Based
Finally!  One model for governance, leadership and management built on a foundation of relationship values and common sense. This book puts the pieces together with clarity and conviction.

Not-for-Profit Governance Matters is an extensive 358 pages of practical application built on a solid conceptual framework for values-based organizations. It covers everything you need to know to build a solid governing board. The book includes a table of contents of a typical governance manual and a sample strategic plan.

Table of Contents



Part 1 The Relationship Model – Finding Good Soil

Chapter 1 What’s the Difference?

Chapter 2 Values and Power

Chapter 3 Relationships: The Foundation for a Healthy Organization

Chapter 4 An Organization is Like a Tree

Chapter 5 Communication, Decision-making, Conflict Resolution

Chapter 6 Planning, Delegating, Monitoring and Measuring

Part 2 From the Roots Up – Governance, Leadership and Management

Chapter 7 Governance Context

Chapter 8 Competencies of Board Members

Chapter 9 Designing the Tree Trunk (Governance Structure)

Chapter 10 Designing Governance Processes

Chapter 11 Strategic Planning

Chapter 12 Delegating CEO Authority and Responsibility

Chapter 13 Monitoring and Measuring (The Accountability Process)

Chapter 14 The Chief Executive Officer

Chapter 15 Management Structure and Processes

Chapter 16 Leadership at the Treetop

Epilogue Keeping the Tree Green and the Fruit Ripe


Appendix A Definition of Terms

Appendix B Board Governance Manual

Appendix C Strategic Plan

Appendix D Competencies – Table and Definitions

Appendix D Bibliography



“Who is your audience?” people ask me. Personal friends and colleagues have suggested that I write this book for four different types of organizations:

  • Faith-based not-for-profit organizations
  • Values-based not-for-profit organizations
  • Christian churches
  • For-profit corporations

The Relationship Model™ of governance applies to all, but I am writing primarily for the second of these four. Common sense is at the heart of this model of governance, leadership and management.  Not-for-profit organizations that are based on a variety of organizational values- humanitarian aid, the arts, education, etc. – have found the Relationship Model™ helpful.

I suggest that the best way to read this book is by starting at the beginning in order to introduce yourself to the conceptual basis of healthy, balanced working relationships detailed in the Relationship Model™. Once you have done this, feel free to move to the section most applicable to you, perhaps the role you have in your organization.  There is something here for boards, board chairs, CEOs, managers, paid and volunteer staff.

Three of us have had a role in writing this book.  Jennifer Loughlin, my colleague who lives and works in the United Kingdom, has written the sections that deal with competencies of board members, board chairs, chief executive officers and managers.  Her research and expertise in competencies, vital components to healthy working relationships, is a major part of the Relationship Model™.

Patti Kelm has edited the entire book to make it relevant for values-based organizations.  She has researched other authorities on governance, leadership and management and has added numerous references to their work. Patti lives and works in Canada and is also licensed to consult in the Relationship Model™.

Many of the common English words in the text are used as technical terms.  They have specific meaning to give the model clarity.  For example, words like strategic and tactical can have several meanings. Other words, like power, hierarchy and accountability have been “abused” over the years. Each carries baggage that changes the meaning for many of us. In this book these words have only one meaning. All words to be taken as technical terms are included in the Definition of Terms in Part 3, Appendix A. Referring to these definitions may help you to understand the model more clearly.

You will also find in the appendices a bibliography of the work of other people on this journey towards knowledge. The development of their themes and concepts is, I believe, worthy of your consideration.  Their works are foundational to this practical application of governance to not-for-profit organizations. I have quoted from some of their works, as I considered appropriate and valuable.

Life is a journey of learning, a journey that appears to have no destination of complete wisdom in this life… only milestones of “aha” experiences and discoveries.  My purpose is to add value to your own journey by building on what is already available to you.

I believe that from your own experience and common sense, you are already acquainted with the many pieces that make up the “puzzle” of healthy, balanced working relationships. My hope is that this book will help you find clarity in seeing how the many pieces can fit together to form the big picture of a healthy not-for-profit organization.

Les Stahlke


What Others Say

“The process of transforming from a managing board to a governingboard using the Relationship Model™ was a paradigm shift. However, it resulted in making Pro Coro Canada a more stable organization, increased morale, better leadership in every sense, and an encouraging positive future outlook.”
-Trent Worthington, Pro Coro Canada, Edmonton, Alberta

“The Relationship Model™ helped the board of Grace International School develop the change strategy required to move from a Managing board to a Governing board.”
– Nancy Benham, Grace Int’l. School, Dhaka, Bangladesh

“The Relationship Model™ of governance and management helped us clearly define how to properly plan to respond in almost any future situation.”
– Ed & Rhoda Kirk, Hope Seeds, Inc., Florida, USA


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