Make Your Board WORK

imagesLike any organization, the Board of an organization is a work in progress.

Most boards are always changing, adapting, stalling or redefining. This is normal because we live in a world where change is a part of every conversation, every reality. The issues we dealt with yesterday are gone, and today we have a whole new set of issues.

Larry Osborne wrote a book a number of years ago entitled “Sticky Teams” (Zondervan ©2010).  In this book, Osborne shares “Five Major Roadblocks to Board Unity”.  While he’s talking specifically to church boards, I really resonate with his perspective.

As leaders, we tend to put the majority of our energy, time and passion into the organization we are leading, then we wonder why our board doesn’t share that same passion and burden?  Look at these five roadblocks. Is there anything you can do to remove these from your current board structure?

I’ll share his five roadblocks, and will give my commentary under each of them.

Roadblock #1)  Meeting in the Wrong Place

We know that the physical environment of where we choose to conduct our board meeting is important. You need to choose the best place possible, and be well prepared.

I want to comment on the value of getting “out” of the boardroom. We recently had a board meeting that was followed by a 2-day retreat. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to simply be together, to continue conversations that began at the board meeting, and to have time to talk at a different level.  Some of this took place over a walk or even bowling, but it was nice to be out of the room and into the world.

Roadblock #2) Ignoring Relationships

It’s easy to focus on the task or the pressing needs first. I encourage you to take the time to nurture relationships with the other board members. Get to know them, their lives, their work, their families. When you face major decisions, having healthy relationships will go a long way. Don’t ignore this need and opportunity.

Roadblock #3) Not Meeting Often Enough

Some boards press through and meet only to complete the mandate given in the organizing documents. Meetings are streamlined, issues are pushed through, and people aren’t invited into the process. I’m not saying that meetings need to be longer, but you need to figure out what works for you. Board members are willing to give up time to be a part of this organization. Value that time, but also make it worth the time and investment.

The best way to address this is by planning your agenda, identifying items that need to be worked through, and honoring your board members lives.

Roadblock #4) Constant Turnover

Some boards use term limits to ensure that there’s proper transfer of position and power. While this works great in protecting your organization, it might work against you as any momentum you build stops when someone has to step off. There are many different models and ways to transition board members and keep things fluid without sacrificing momentum and function.

Roadblock #5) To Many Members

“Board size is a roadblock to unity” (Osborne).  Too big a board will keep you from learning to work together. Too small a board keeps people so busy that they’re unable to engage in conversation and relationship. Keep your board manageable and keep people engaged.

Do some work on your Board or your Leadership Team. Realize that one of your most important jobs is to get rid of the roadblocks that keep them from being as effective as they really need to be.

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