Discover the three action steps that can accelerate a new level of mutual respect and trust between your Board Chair and Senior Leader. And experience the clear benefits of a healthier culture and greater organizational impact.
A well-functioning board is the single-most important variable for any ministry that wants to achieve its mission.
What can a Senior Leader and a Board Chair do to better their working relationship and thus increase the health of an organization’s culture?
Answer: A lot!
So says Bob Andringa, who has made a career out of helping boards and executive leaders succeed simultaneously. The organization wins every time, thanks to these three foundational action steps.
1. Let the Board Chair Lead.
Without an effective Board Chair that really leads the board, most CEOs will try to jump in and manage the board. They won’t say it, but board members will go home thinking, “With the CEO calling the shots, I feel like a robot.”
You don’t have to go this route, if you have an effective Chair that:
- Collaborates with the CEO to craft meeting agendas that zero in on policy
- Clarifies every board member’s clear role to play
- Holds board members (and the CEO) accountable
- Confirms that committees are focused and functioning on behalf of the board, while not trying to advise staff
- Makes sure that prayer surrounds all thoughts and actions of the board
- Assures the CEO or senior pastor receives a thorough annual performance review
2. Let the CEO Serve.
The executive leader has an investment to help the Board Chair succeed. Therefore, the CEO must:
- Honor and complement the Chair’s leadership, rather than compete with it. “This was hard for me to do as a CEO,” says Bob, “because I wanted things done so well. Honoring through service helps build one-to-one trust that’s so important.”
- Realize that most Board Chairs are not professionals, at least in the organization’s realm of service. A CEO who invites the Chair to a Christian Leadership Alliance conference (or some similar development opportunity) is saying to the Chair, “I want you to know our sector. I want you to succeed in your role.”
3. Let Healthy Communication Flourish.
The CEO and Board Chair who cooperate and collaborate set the tone for the ministry’s culture. Talk freely, openly and regularly.
- A monthly phone call can go a long way toward mutual understanding.
- So can a conversation ten days before the next board meeting, to make sure the agenda is clear and on track.
- A monthly 30-minute “no agenda” conference call with the CEO allows interested board members to stay current and build trust among themselves and with the CEO.
Says Bob, “At the end of the day, the cooperation and shared vision between a CEO and a Board Chair gives confidence to the board and models the unity necessary for ministry success. There’s no single, magical solution to moving governance from good to great, but a healthy partnership between the CEO and Chair goes a long way.
“Sound board governance takes dedication, sacrifice, wisdom and faith. I’ve witnessed many a CEO and a Board Chair come together, work together and serve with excellence the organization to which God has called them.
“Many inspiring examples of a strong, mutually supportive CEO and Board Chair have assured me that the CEO and his or her leadership team, along with a Board Chair and the board members have nothing to lose if they’re willing to work together and remain true to godly principles to serve their organization and the Lord they love.”