2 min read

367: Behind the Boardroom Curtain: Best Practices, No-Nos, and Workplace Wisdom

367: Behind the Boardroom Curtain: Best Practices, No-Nos, and Workplace Wisdom

Does your board have good governance? In this episode featuring John Pearson, you'll discover the essential elements of a healthy board that lead to extraordinary outcomes. John Pearson is the president of John Pearson Associates, and he helps nonprofit organizations in vision implementation. 


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In this episode:

  • Purpose of a Board
    • John defines the primary function of a board. (05:38)
    • The three hats board members wear, and the importance of boards owning the strategy. (06:19)
    • Insights on the state of nonprofit and church boards, highlighting the need for more partnerships and innovative approaches in the church. (12:36)
    • John outlines the top five practices for healthy board functioning, starting with finding the right balance between policy governance and micromanagement. (14:57)

  • Sweet Spot Between Policy Governance and Micromanagement: 

    • Identify the leadership style of the top leader (senior pastor, CEO, etc.) on a scale of one to ten. (16:17)
    • Evaluate their approach: Do they lean towards seeking forgiveness rather than permission, or are they more cautious and consult with the board first? (16:59)
    • Use this evaluation to understand the leader's style and where adjustments might be beneficial. (17:15)
  • Board Prospects and Recruitment:

    • Emphasize the importance of a thoughtful process in bringing new board members on board. (17:24)
    • Discourage proposing board membership hastily; instead, suggest a more extended 18- to 36-month recruitment process. (18:15)
    • Encourage recruiting healthy individuals for a healthier board, emphasizing the significance of reference checks. (18:24)
  • Leveraging Gifts and Passions:

    • Utilize assessments, such as spiritual gifts, social styles (analytical, driver, amiable, expressive), and Gallup StrengthsFinder, to understand and leverage individual strengths. (18:37)
  • Strategic Planning with a One-Page, Rolling Three-Year Plan:

    • Advocate for a concise one-page, rolling three-year plan for the board, focusing on three to five initiatives. (20:14)
    • Regularly update and evaluate the plan to maintain clarity and prevent the introduction of harebrained ideas during board meetings. (20:41)
  • Recruitment Based on Needs:

    • Differentiate between recruiting a board member and recruiting a volunteer. (21:00)
  • Balancing Policy Governance:

    • Discuss challenges associated with pure policy governance, emphasizing that it may not be suitable for every organization. (24:46)
    • Highlight the importance of having clear protocols for senior team members' participation in board meetings while avoiding unnecessary interference in staff matters. (25:54)
  • CEO and Board Chair Relationship:

    • Recommend that CEOs establish three to five annual SMART goals, ensuring clarity and alignment with the board's expectations. (30:21)
    • Introduce the 5/15 monthly report as a tool for monitoring progress on established goals. (30:47)
    • Clarify the board chair's role as a coordinator and encourager rather than the boss of the CEO. (32:13)
  • Building Relationships on the Board:

    • Stress the importance of intentional bonding and relationship-building among board members. (34:14)
    • Encourage in-person meetings whenever possible, acknowledging the challenges of online communication. (35:45)

  • Importance of Board Policy Manuals:
    • Refer to a template provided by Bob Andringa and Fred Laughlin for creating a comprehensive board-policy manual. (38:17)
  • Key "No-Nos" for Board Practices:

    • Emphasizing the four phases of bringing new members onto the board. (45:12)
    • Courageously addressing board-member dysfunction, including unexcused absences and confidentiality lapses. (45:57)
  • Building a Healthy Workplace Culture:

    • Boards engaging in an annual self-assessment survey to model cultural change. (50:23)
    • Importance of caring about feedback, using tools like the Five-Finger Feedback method. (50:41)
    • Regular performance reviews, including the CEO, communicate the significance of evaluation. (51:48)

Read the Transcript

Read a complete, word-for-word transcript of the episode


Follow our Host, Al Lopus, on LinkedIn & Twitter.

Email our host at al@workplaces.org

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