Wednesday, November 29, 2017

LESSON 2 – Ask the Gold Standard Question

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. Tim McDermott is our guest blogger this week.

LESSON 2 OF 40 - Ask the Gold Standard Question 

A “Pruning Moment” Can Improve Your Board Meetings

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 2, we are challenged to see if our board is engaged at board meetings. If they own the ministry’s vision, and are engaged, they will want to make the board meeting time more productive. This process is called pruning.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 2, pages 6-9: 
• The authors’ favorite engagement question: What causes you to reflect, “That was a great board meeting today!”?
• “Imagine if your board had frequent moments characterized by deep joy, strategic issues, spiritual insight and waiting for God to speak?”
• Stop doing the things that don’t engage your board.  Henry Cloud says “If we own it, we have to prune.  If we don’t, we have decided to own the other vision, the one we called average.” 

Several years ago, we noticed we were having a difficult time getting board members to attend committee meetings. Don’t get me wrong. We had a great board—they just weren’t coming and had great “reasons” why they couldn’t. Through some anonymous surveys of the board, we learned that they felt they weren’t contributing at the meetings. They were coming just to hear reports and vote yes (or unlikely no).  

The only meeting that was well attended was the Strategy Committee, because that is where they could contribute and they felt valued.  So we changed our committee and board agenda to be more issue-based. Rather than reading a report, we presented issues we were facing, ups and downs, and challenges.  The end result—the board is more engaged and attendance is up! 


Tim McDermott is the President/General Manager of KSBJ in Houston, Texas and NGEN Radio. The radio stations reach over one million people a week in Houston making it the largest non-commercial radio station in the world.  The station has been honored with many Station of the Year Awards from NRB and CMB and has been named a Best Christian Workplace. Besides reaching the local community of Houston through music, a large prayer ministry and events, KSBJ also actively mentors Christian music radio stations around the world so they can actively reach their communities for Christ.  Tim has served on many national broadcasting boards and is also a CPA and has served as a Field Reviewer for ECFA for several years.  

• In addition to the board, ask my senior leaders how we can prune our staff meetings.
• Follow up with board members individually to make sure their voices are being heard.
• Ask other CEOs if they have learned successful ways to better engage their boards.

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