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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

LESSON 25 - Align Board Member Strengths With Committee Assignments

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. Erika E. Cole is our guest blogger this week for the first of three lessons in "Part 8: Boardroom Worst Practices.”

LESSON 25 OF 40 - Align Board Member Strengths With Committee Assignments 
Leverage the Three Powerful S’s.

 In Lesson 25, we are reminded that we all have different strengths, social styles and spiritual gifts (which form the “Three Powerful S’s”). It is a mistake not to consider the unique qualities that each person possesses when considering committee assignments.

In this first lesson of Part 8: “Boardroom Worst Practices,” you will read how one board member states his awareness of his unique qualities, but finds a chairman who is less than receptive. This lesson encourages leaders to align board member strengths with committee assignments.

We are all fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and we honor Him and serve best as we seek to leverage our God-given strengths and gifts.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 25, pages 126-130: 
• Effectively serving on a board requires a certain degree of introspection. What are your core strengths? How can you most effectively contribute? In what ways may your personality, perspective, and purpose align with the vision of the board on which you serve?
• Board leaders who leverage the power of their strengths (visit the Gallup Strengths Center) have board members who are six times as likely to be engaged in board work, according to Gallup.
• “Can you imagine the incredible culture you could create for this important ministry if the board modeled a strengths-based environment for staff, volunteers, donors, and your customers?”

When we can help people leverage their strengths, social styles and spiritual gifts, we get to see them blossom. While 99.99% of attorneys focus on other practice areas, I have the incredible blessing of representing churches, ministries and denominations. Ironically, when I completed my law school application over 20 years ago, I indicated that I wanted to practice family law.  Family law?!?!  While there is certainly a need for excellent family law attorneys, I am glad that God moved me toward an area that reflects my strengths, social style and spiritual gifts.

For me, prayer is a key component to tapping into those God-given abilities.  Seeking His guidance is certain to provide us with direction as to how to leverage the gifts He has provided to us all.


Erika E. Cole, Esq. is an attorney with Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP, a law firm of over 160 attorneys serving clients regionally, nationally and internationally.  Known as The Church Attorney®, Erika has dedicated her life to helping churches of all denominations and sizes ensuring that their legal affairs are in order so they can focus on spreading their message, serving their communities, and growing their ministries.

For nearly two decades, Erika has partnered with ministries to address everything from church planting, new leadership transitions, buying and selling property to church litigation issues, and helping leadership address the spectrum of governance matters, including IRS matters. She is a contributor on the editorial board of Christianity Today’s Church Law & Tax Report, and is on her second term of board service at ECFA. She can be reached at The Church Attorney or Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP.

• Consider providing every member of your board the book, StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath, and inspire them to complete the online assessment tool.
• Examine your board culture—are members invited to speak up, even when the discussion may be uncomfortable?


On May 16, 2018, watch for Ed Morgan's commentary on Lesson 26, "Spotting, Catching, or Exiting a Falling CEO. Watch for the critical signs."

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