Board of Directors.
Just saying this name can induce all kinds of emotion, ranging from great discouragement to great inspiration. As executive directors for non-profit organizations, we all have different experiences working with a board of directors.
There is no one formula for creating an effective board. Board members come with all different experiences and backgrounds and they comprise a combination of different business owners, business executives, housewives, teachers, and the list goes on. The richness that diversity brings also comes with challenges, and boards that do not face these challenges head on and with purpose can cause a lot of damage.
I know working with a board can be frustrating, but I also know that when done well, it can be a rich experience for everyone involved and can move the mission from idea to action by providing the protection, encouragement and wisdom it was first established to provide.
Let’s remembering what the role of our non-profit board is:
- To protect the mission of the ministry.
- To live by the governing values of the ministry.
- To hire and monitor the performance of the executive director.
- To ensure the organization has the necessary resources to fulfill its mission; while monitoring and developing policies as necessary.
- To help the ministry accomplish an agreed-upon vision.
As a leader, you have a great opportunity to set the tone and strike a balance that will allow you to do your work while productively collaborating with your board in the best interest of the ministry.
Unfortunately, if you are functioning as a board without trust, you are likely working in an environment that is harvesting micro-management and fueling a strong temptation to undermine and act without permission or approval by the executive leadership. Boards built on this rocky foundation start to resemble a game of tug of war instead of accomplishing the work of a group that is all pulling together and in the same direction.
When we don’t strive to build a healthy partnership with our board, we can find ourselves stuck in an exhausting cycle where productivity and morale suffer and rob all the energy that was intended to carry out the vision of our organization.
You can avoid this cycle, and just as important, you can play a role in impacting what has already started, by focusing on what matters most—people. A board of directors is comprised of people. People that initially signed up to donate not only their money, but also their time and their experience, because they believed in doing something that mattered. They believed in the mission of the organization.
My encouragement to you, as a director, is to see these people for who they are and begin to build relationships with your board chair and other key leaders of the board, just like you would with a major donor. Keep your eyes on creating an atmosphere where your vision can thrive and your ministry goals can be achieved.
You are doing the foundational work that will lead you to a place where you will serve alongside a board that understands Biblical stewardship and is not afraid to invite others along to accomplish the vision you all hold. Begin to pray today that God will build unity within your board, and commit to taking the first step toward making that happen.
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