Board Series: Board Size, Why Policy?, and Other Questions

Good morning (or afternoon or evening, depending on where you are)!

In the wake of several conversations that, in one way or another, had to do with board governance, I’m writing this blog post to address some of the great questions I have recently heard people asking.

What is a good size for a board? Well, that depends on the type of organization and what you are together trying to accomplish. For me, in the contexts I serve, 7-9 is an ideal number. Governance Today writes a great article on this, you can read that here. The important thing for any board is that they be able to accomplish that which they’ve been tasked to do.

Why policy matters? Policy – and reviewing it and revising it as needed – matters because policy allows a board to do its work. Policies are guiding documents that contain how that work is to be accomplished. Policy is owned by the board, is the work of the board, and empowers the board to speak with one voice. Another way of looking at this is it provides the board and CEO with empowering boundaries.

What if I want to manage versus govern? (Such a great question that I heard last night at a Town Hall meeting.) If you want to manage, then seek out a managing board or apply for a management position within an organization that you would like to manage and feel you have something of value to contribute. It is highly disruptive and an energy drain for all board members when one (or more) members want to be in the management domain versus the governing domain. I have seen this totally derail a board, sometimes for years.

Is governing hard? That’s an interesting question. Personally, I found governance hard when I was uneducated about what it was and why it mattered. Board work is good and necessary work, and, like any ministry worth stewarding well, requires hard work – from everyone. And it requires a commitment from all board members to grow and lean in together in order that they can become the most effective stewards they can be.

This is why taking seriously board development opportunities matters.

Not only that, having an effective chair really matters! To read more about the role of a chair, see my post here.

If you’re considering board service, see some suggestions on my blog post here.

Have an amazing day!

Reverend Carmen Kampman

p.s. In case you didn’t know, my ordination took place April 22, 2018.



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