Welcome to Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we're featuring a guest writer’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. David McKenna is our guest blogger this week for the first of three lessons in "Part 7: Boardroom Best Practices.”
LESSON 22 OF 40 - The Most Underrated Board PositionThe position of the board chair is pivotal to a healthy board.
THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: Election of the board chair should be based on the same criteria used in the selection of deacons in Acts 6—good reputation, practical wisdom, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Good reputation is required because the chair is always the face of the board and in times of crisis or change, the face of the institution or ministry. Practical wisdom is essential for keeping the Big Picture before the board as issues are debated, initiatives are considered, and outcomes are assessed. First and foremost, the chair must be filled of the Holy Spirit in order to lead by discerning the mind of Christ, assuring the guidance of the Spirit, and obeying the will of God.
MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 22, pages 110-114:
• The board chair must have the character of being first among equals in integrity, trust and humility.
• The board chair has no inherent authority or power. The board itself authorizes the chair to speak or act on its behalf.
MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
A board member once told me that an organization has a choice between a strong chair and weak CEO—or a weak chair and a strong CEO. Experience often proves him right. But should it be? Isn’t the goal for the most effective ministry to have a strong chair and a strong CEO? Have you been a part of that kind of team, or know of a ministry, that modeled that partnership? If so, was the board more efficient in its process and the ministry more effective in its outcomes? If you had no other choice, would you choose a strong chair and a weak CEO—or a weak chair and a strong CEO? Why? If a strong chair and a strong CEO is your preference, how can you work to achieve and maintain that goal?
THIS WEEK’S QUOTES & COMMENTARY BY DAVID McKENNA:
David McKenna is the retired President of Spring Arbor University, Seattle Pacific University, and Asbury Theological Seminary. He is Chair Emeritus of the Spring Arbor University Board of Trustees and Founding Chair of Bakke Graduate University. Author of more than 35 books, his ECFAPress book, Call of the Chair: Leading the Board of the Christ-centered Ministry, is a primary source for the selection, leadership, and assessment of the board chair in Christ-centered ministries. Board members will also appreciate the wisdom in Stewards of a Sacred Trust: CEO Selection, Transition and Development for Boards of Christ-centered Organizations.
• Review the criteria and process for the election of your board chair.
• Read “Maestro,” the final chapter in Call of the Chair.
On April 25, 2018, watch for Steve Moore's commentary on Lesson 23, "Focus on Mission Impact and Sustainability: The 'dual bottom line' equips boards to address dead horses and sacred cows (or goats)."
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