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. Rick Alvis is our guest blogger this week for the second of three lessons in "Part 10: Building a 24/7 Board Culture.”
LESSON 32 OF 40 - Loose Lips Sink the Boardroom ShipWhat happens in the boardroom must stay in the boardroom.
THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: Here’s the wisdom from Lesson 32: As a board member, keep your lips sealed, regardless of the topic matter. Loose lips can destroy a ministry and its public reputation.
MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 32, pages 163-167:
• It is so important for a board member to know that most everything at a board meeting should be treated confidentially. It should also be noted—ministries ought to consider having members sign a confidentiality statement even though confidentiality may be spelled out in the board policies manual. Signing a statement annually is a timely reminder that the information in board meetings is confidential.
• Follow the two strikes rule. Yes, the first time can be overlooked and considered an “Oops, I forgot!” moment. However, when a board member shares confidential information a second time, that person should be removed from the board. (Perhaps it is in that person’s DNA to leak information—and so boards must always address the issue.)
MY COLOR COMMENTARY:
In this age where there is ample misinformation floating out in cyberspace, it is not necessary to add to the data flow. Once the information is out, there is no way to reel it in. There are matters that a board needs to process internally and boards do not need the pressure of outsiders to “help” the processing aspect. If a member of the board releases information, either good or bad, it can do irreparable harm to the organization.
All too often comments are made because people want to look important or in the know—like they have the inside track. They overlook the fact that there are right ways to release information to the public and wrong ways. Whenever information is released, organizations today need to get the best possible impact from it that they can. Boards need to strategize the best way to take advantage of any kind of information for the good of the cause. Loose lips work just the opposite.
Rick Alvis has served the homeless and addicted in Indiana for 40 years. Since 1990, he’s served as President/CEO of Wheeler Mission in Indianapolis. He began his career with the Evansville Rescue Mission where he worked for 13 years before coming to Wheeler Mission. In his tenure in Indianapolis, he has directed a path of growth and outreach to the neediest citizens of the state, increasing the number of services offered and extending programs to men, women, and children. Under his leadership, three organizations have merged with Wheeler Mission in order to provide more effective care for Hoosiers in need of vital services. Setting Wheeler Mission on a solid financial path has allowed Wheeler Mission to expand programs and the number of staff by growing a balanced budget from around $650,000 in 1990 to over $13 million in 2017 and an increase in staff from 17 in 1990 to more than 150 today.
Rick has served the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions in several capacities, including Secretary/Treasurer, Vice President, and as President (board chair) from 2003–2009, the longest serving board chair in AGRM’s history. He currently serves on the ECFA board as secretary. In 2016, Governor Mike Pence, now Vice President of the United States, honored Rick with Indiana’s Sagamore of the Wabash award. Rick and his wife, Julie (who also works at the mission), have been married since 1974 and have three grown children, one grandson and three grand dogs (two are German Shepherds).
TO-DO TODAY:• Review your board policies. Do you have a confidentiality statement? If not, create one.
• Consider having board members annually sign the confidentiality statement.
On July 4, 2018, watch for the commentary by Tom Addington on Lesson 33, "Good Is the Enemy of Great. When great board experiences end, they should be lamented."
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