Accountability – the Gift We Fail to Give

Accountability

Here are three very different scenarios, each of them repeated hundreds of times in Christian organizations.  There is a common thread running through them.

1. Imagine that CEO who was extremely successful.  Charismatic beyond what you experienced anywhere else you worked, he was a visionary, a good listener, an effective fundraiser, dependable, honest.  Did he lack anything?  Did he have any flaws at all?  Well, yes, as a matter of fact he did.  He was a humorist, but he had a bad habit of teasing people with humor that was insensitive, that made people feel devalued and embarrassed.  No one ever said anything, of course.   He was successful, and he was the CEO.  Years went by without his ever knowing that he hurt peoples’ feelings with humor.  How could he know?  They always laughed. Read more

How Boards Accumulate Wisdom

Governing Organization Board Wisdom

Imagine that your board is having a discussion about an issue that has come up once before some years ago. Several of the board members remember it, but they can’t quite remember what was decided. They want to follow whatever precedent was set back then. Someone suggests a search of the minutes, but no one can remember the year. It’s just too cumbersome to find the minutes of that meeting. The board decides to make a new decision as best as it can.

This is an example of a managing board struggling to become a governing board. It illustrates the most significant single difference between the two types of boards. Governing boards store principles in policies. That’s how they accumulate wisdom. Read more

How to be a Board Member

How to be a Board Member Code of Conduct
Code of Conduct

“How to be a Board Member” is one of the most common phrases that volunteers use in Internet searches to learn about board governance.  In thinking about a response to that search it occurred to me that the best way to respond was to provide a simple ten-statement Code of Conduct for board members.

These ten principles will guarantee that you will be the finest board member you can be and an excellent model for others to follow.
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How to Choose Board Members (Part 2)

How to Choose a Board Member for a non profit oranization

This is the second in a two-part article on the competencies required in successful Board members.  What are competencies? And which competencies are required for board membership?  In this two-part article we will answer those two questions.

Competencies are the predispositions or characteristics that one observes in a successful candidate for a given position, in this case a board member.  Competencies combine values, motivation, attitudes, knowledge and skills.  Here are the second ten of twenty competencies that GovernanceMatters.com considers important for a board member to be successful in governance.  They are arranged in alphabetical order.

Perhaps you can recall or imagine the common scenario that repeats itself year after year when a board seeks to recruit nominees for elected to the Board of Directors of an organization.

The effort may be late in beginning, perhaps because there is no formal process for developing a list of nominees on an ongoing basis.  You might also imagine that it is difficult to find people who have the time and interest to serve in this way. Read more

How to Choose Board Members (Part 1)

How to Choose a Board Member
How to Choose a Board Member

Perhaps you can recall or imagine the common scenario that repeats itself year after year when a board seeks to recruit nominees for election to the Board of Directors of an organization.

The effort may be late in beginning, perhaps because there is no formal process for developing a list of nominees on an ongoing basis.  You might also imagine that it is difficult to find people who have the time and interest to serve in this way.

What we have noticed as being the most common characteristic of this effort is the lack of attention given to the competencies of the men and women who will hold the reins of power for several years.

What are competencies? And what competencies are required for board membership?  In this two-part article we will answer those two questions. Read more

Organizational Conflict (Poll)

Conflict Poll Photo

As a consultant in the governance of not-for-profit organizations and churches I am often invited to assist organizations because of some conflict within that is preventing progress and healthy functional relationships.

In my experience there are almost always three elements to these conflicts, all three of which must be dealt with in order to bring the organization or church back to healthy function.

One is an unclear structure.  By that I mean that the design of how authority flows from the membership to the Board, to the CEO, to the management team and on to the staff is unclear.  Who has how much authority and for what purpose is often assumed, not clarified, and to whom is each person or group accountable.

The other is inappropriate use of power.  The vacuum that is created by the lack of clarity is often filled by authoritarian people who take the opportunity to fill the void with personal power plays.

The third is probably the most damaging. In our western culture, largely driven by Christian principles, we prefer dealing with conflict with forgiveness rather than accountability.  “Let’s take the high road.”

Very seldom do we recognize that in our organizations, conflict begins with a poorly designed structure which is exacerbated by authoritarian power and the laissez-faire response.

Whenever I encounter conflict within organizations and churches I suggest a four-step approach.

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