Board Series: Considering Being a Board Member? Things You Should Consider

Hope everyone is having a great day!

Woke up this morning after last night attending a fantastically led Town Hall meeting for the membership of the school where my children attend, and I woke up this morning thinking about the role of a board member and things potential board members should consider before seeking to be on a board.

Here are some thoughts for you to consider:

  • Know why that particular board exists. The reason for a boards existence is critical and understanding its mission (its reason for existence) and values (how they behave) is important for you to know.
  • Get curious and direct questions to the board if you need clarity on how the board is health wise and what strengths they feel are missing around the table that might assist in furthering the effectiveness of the board and its mission.
  • Consider your motives for why you want to be on the board. Let’s say for example that you want an organization to be better managed, if that is true and you’re seeking a position on a governing board, you’re in the wrong area. You’d be better off seeking a position within the organization. Jim Brown in his book The Imperfect Board Member rightly says, “The secret to effectiveness is understanding the different roles within an organization and how those roles relate.”1 
  • It’s important for you to know yourself and be able to article what strengths you could bring to the table of leadership.
  • It’s important to also know who and for what purposes your seeking to serve. Brown also provides great insight by stating this: “Problems arise when board members talk as customers and expect to be heard as owners.”2 
  • Unless you have previously served on the particular board you’re hoping to become a part of, please be aware that it is going to take you some time to understand the guiding documents of the board. By guiding documents I mean its bylaws, MOAs, and everything contained in its Board Policy Manual, to start.
  • Get clear up front on the level of commitment that will be required of you. Included in that would be asking how long a board term is and what monthly commitments could look like. Do not commit if you’re unable to fulfill that obligation because it directly affects the ability of the whole board to do its work.
  • Ask how the board is seeking to develop itself. Board development should always be a critically important element of any governing board. As directors develop and grow together, it increases their fruitfulness.
  • Because a board is required to know the financial landscape of the organization, it is entirely okay to be asking the board what the financial statements look like.

Those are just a few of my morning thoughts. I hope you find them helpful. Please comment below if you have other things you think would be important to consider.

Have an amazing day!

 

p.s. I highly recommend reading Jim Brown’s book The Imperfect Board Member.

Board Series: What Do Governing Boards Do?

*Note: All of my posts on governing boards will be about nonprofit boards who have moral ownership they are accountable to.

When switching my website to a new platform I, unfortunately, lost several of my posts, most of which had to do with Board Governance and board work. So frustrating! However, it can be argued that having to rewrite something also reinforces ones learning. So here we go!

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God’s in the Waiting

Be still my soul,  God is in the waiting.

He’s present, patient, working. Sometimes I see Holy Spirit at work, others times I don’t – but I know God is always at work.

From ages past no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,  no eye has seen any God besides you,  who works for those who wait for him. Isa 64:4

He’s at work in my waking hours. He’s at work in resting. Somethimes my resting is not so restful, it feels like restlessness and like I am trying to take just one deep breath. It hurts. And I am rminded that God is in my waiting.

God help me in the waiting. Help me to rest in you. Help me to see you, the only God who became visible in and through Jesus Christ.
Friend, I don’t know where your at today, but I felt a strong push to write this short blog post to remind us that God is in our waiting. Let us trust that he is working for those who wait for him.

Praying for all of you who feel discouraged in the waiting.

Be at peace my soul, God is in the waiting.

Held by God in the waiting,

Carmen

Your Special Work, Are You Doing It?

There are a lot of things to value about a faith-based graduate study journey, and there is one that I am particularly thankful for this week: time allotted to simply hearing and reflecting on the Word of God. That’s where the inspiration for today’s post comes from. Read More

Warning Signs of a Toxic or Dysfunctional Board

I’m currently not serving on a board, but hope to again at some point in the future. Since the first time I served on a board, I have done a lot of reading, studying (which included taking a Board Governance class), talking with others who are either serve or served on a board,  and I’ve learned a thing or two since those early first days of board service.

Here are some warning signs of a toxic and or dysfunctional board. They are in no particular order of importance, yet they all matter.

  1. How is the board’s relationships with its key leader(s)? Toxic alert warnings should be abounding if boards are not getting along with their key leader(s) and are talking about them in negative ways instead of talking to them to find solutions and ways to come together. If a board and their CEO (or whatever title is used for the key leader) are not actively working alongside each other and respecting each others roles, it will be felt in the entire organization. It takes high levels of humility from both sides to work together, and it can be done.
  2. How effective is the Board Chair? The role of a chair directly ties into how effective the board can and will be.  “As the president or executive director is the public face of the organization, the chair is the public face of the board. When he or she speaks or acts with the conferred power of the board, the credibility of the organization is on the line.” (David L. McKenna, Call of the Chair, 11. Unhealthy chair equals a toxic board. It is vitally important that a chair is carefully selected for the leadership abilities and character that they bring to the role. Take care in selecting the right chair. (I think that last line rhymed.)
  3. When the board speaks, is it speaking as one voice?  “Good boards contain and accommodate a diversity of perspectives and thoughts. They give time and respect to individual differences, and they are rewarded with a message that the board as a whole can support. Although there may be discussion, even vociferous debate, of competing viewpoints in a board meeting, when the board finally speaks to an issue in the form of policy, it should speak with one voice.” (Frederic L. Laughlin and Robert C. Andringa, Good Governance for NonProfits, 26.) When board members are not speaking with one voice they are in a dysfunctional pattern and should be considered toxic.
  4. Are there sound board processes that empower the board to thrive? If processes are not clearly understood by all and are not able to be easily found, referenced, and followed, it throws a board into chaos and things can quickly degenerate. John Carver rightly advises “that taking time to design a sound board process, before the process becomes personalized is the greatest safeguard against the debilitating effects of unfortunate interpersonal dynamics. The only other preventative measure that comes close is to ensure that all board members are intelligent, communicative, assertive, and mentally healthy” (John Carver, Boards that Make a Difference, 136.)
  5. Is there good communication and transparency from the board?  Boards have a hard job to do together, and for many of us, serving on a board is something we do in addition to our day job. However, we can never lose sight of the fact that we were elected to give leadership and thus have a responsibility to be effectively and regularly communicating with those who have entrusted leadership to us. Also, something else to be aware of,  if boards are spending more time in-camera than out – there is a problem. That said, in-camera sessions do matter; here is a great blog post to read that speaks to why they’re important.
  6. Lack of trust, confidentiality, respect, power struggles and nonparticipation of board members are all warning signs that a board is toxic. I couldn’t figure out how to make this a question (it’s late) so I made it as strong a statement as I could. If any of the above is happening it needs to be dealt with – this is why choosing a qualified chair matters! The role of the chair is to manage the board members, call us all to a higher standard, and to deal with issues head on so as to keep the entire board healthy. I think health can also be achieved by setting criteria for board members and allowing a board to recruit qualified people (accountability/policy must be in place for this) to ensure there are diverse gifts present. Health can also be attained by having ongoing board development so as to grow the capacity and health of the board. It is also imperative that a board use their allocated resources to hire consultants or other experts, as needed.

Though this list is not exhaustive, I hope it gives you enough food for thought and possibly even makes for some good discussion points among those of you considering being on a board.

Board work matters – and we need healthy boards.

Have a great weekend.

Carmen

The Power of Saying I’m Sorry

For some of us, saying we’re sorry is extremely difficult; while for others of us, it rolls off our tongue as a quick fix and we give little thought to what we’re actually saying or why we’re saying it.

But the power of a genuine I’m sorry can be immeasurable in it’s ability to yield positive fruit.

In the last number of years, learning to say those words – and mean it – has been well modelled for me from men and women alike. Here’s what I’ve witnessed and/or experienced as a result:

  • Trust and respect grows
  • Teams are strengthened
  • Family relationships grow deeper
  • Grace abounds
  • Resilience is built
  • Healing happens
  • Relationships are transformed

Leaders, we need to be people who are unafraid to step into a conversation where we accept and own when we’ve blown it. Leaders model the way.

As I am reading through the New Testament for a class, I am reminded that Jesus was a man of grace and truth. He was also a man who led differently, let that also be true of us. Let us be men and woman who, when needed, say I’m sorry and genuinely mean it.

Is I’m sorry part of your vocabulary?

Leaders: Are You Letting Others Shine?​

I believe with all my heart that you and I were created to shine for Jesus in ways that make him known.   I also think it’s a leaders responsibility to create space for people to shine. Read More

Making Changes: Just Start & Start Small

Well, friends, we are more than halfway through January 2018.  For those of you who set 2018 goals, how are you doing? Read More

Lean In To the More That God Has, It Comes Through Pruning.

As I have been preparing for our upcoming LEAD Women event on January 22nd, I have been reflecting a lot on the idea of pruning and how we’re often stuck in life because we are not comfortable with endings or don’t know how to end things. Henry Cloud, in his book Necessary Endings: The Employee, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up, suggests that many don’t have a healthy worldview about the healthiness and need for endings. And because none of us like painful experiences, we often avoid confronting the things within ourselves that are keeping us stuck. And just this week I heard an interesting statistic, here it is:

CHARLES DUHIGG: Well, habits are a big deal not only in our lives, because about 40% to 45% of what we do every day sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit.

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Change the Way You’re Speaking to Yourself: Personal Growth Reflection

Growing up it happened on multiple occasions that I heard these words from my Mom, “Watch the way you’re speaking to me.” I deserved it. There was an attitude in my words, and likely my body language too, that was coming full force at my Mom. There are times even as an adult, especially when I am feeling stressed, that I can become overly directive in my communication with others and I know I need to change my tone. But here’s another important truth: sometimes we need to change the tone and choice of words we are using with and about our self.

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Living Worthy of the Call & Making Every Effort to Maintain Unity of the Spirit

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.  Eph4: 1-6

In a matter of one week, this particular portion of scripture came up three times  – so I am today writing about it.

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My Moment: A Leadership Transition

“I want my moment,” I said. I meant it. It mattered. And it mattered to me not only for myself but for all those other women looking, following, and watching my journey as a female leader.

I’ve been invited to the table of leadership. I’m transitioning from an Executive Director of Advancement to a Vice President of Advancement.

Since encountering Christ, I have always sensed a call upon my life. The road of discovering it has not always been easy. I have fumbled. I have studied. I have taken steps of faith. I have failed forward. I have had times of aching. Of being unsure. Of being refined. Of hitting rock bottom. You know those moments where everything is stripped away? It seems, at least for me, it’s in those moments when God still whispers, “Take up your cross and follow me. Not everyone will understand, but you belong to me. Follow me.” I choose “yes” to all that God has for me.

In the journey, there have also been moments of intense joy. Of being sure. Of embracing and living in a beautiful moment, and a moment came this week. You see my friends in the MB/NWO District are people with whom I have shared a lot of important moments with.  Over the years there have been new appointments in ministry, shared prayers during hard seasons, shouts of joy at a victory, celebrations at ordination services, and strong words of encouragement for all that God was doing in my life and theirs. PAOC is my fellowship. The MB/NWO District are some my people. I feel at home among them. And they blessed me this week in ways that are forever etched upon my heart.

Not only did they announce my new appointment (of which I feel very privileged to steward) they honoured me as a woman in ministry. They encouraged, affirmed, and blessed me. They honoured female leaders, and they invited the women leaders to surround me and pray for me. (My brother in Christ, Andrew, said a moving prayer.) It was my “moment” coming to pass in ways that exceeded my expectations. I felt loved. I felt like I belonged. I felt an even greater measure of courage for the days ahead seep into my soul!  I felt hope for all those women watching and wondering if they, too, could be called to steward such responsibility.

I believe with all my heart that God calls men AND women to co-labour together for the advancement of His Kingdom. I believe with all my heart that God gives people gifts (Eph 4:8) and that we are to be who he made us to be for his glory.

Shout out to my husband Albert and all our kids – I love you! Shout out to my HCS colleagues for being a part of my journey and for allowing me to grow up and into my calling these last few years. And shout out to my MB/NWO PAOC family for blessing me with a moment.

To those of you following along on my journey of transformation, blessings in your journey. I pray you embrace Jesus, take up your cross, and wholeheartedly follow him.

 

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My moment. Surrounded by godly women.

 

 

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My friend Jo-Ann captured my presentation of “What’s New” at Horizon.

 

 

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