Wednesday, July 3, 2019

LESSON 20 – Apply for a Staff Position and You Can Deal With That Issue!

Welcome to Lessons From the Church Boardroom—The Blog, a 40-week journey through the new book, Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, by Dan Busby and John Pearson. Each Wednesday, we'll feature a guest blogger’s favorite snippet from the week's topic. Amy Nikkel is our guest blogger this week for the third of five lessons in "Part 6: Boardroom Time-Wasters, Trouble-Makers, and Truth-Tellers.”

LESSON 20 OF 40 – Apply for a Staff Position and You Can Deal With That Issue!
Help board members not to cross the line into operational details.

THE BIG IDEA FROM THE BOOK: In Lesson 20, we learn that “sound governance requires that all board members understand and apply the principle of exiting the operational highway and trusting such matters to the senior pastor.” 

Sometimes the line between operational excellence and board oversight can be gray. There is a reason your board members were elected, and it is often because of the excellence and leadership they exude in their fields. However, it is important to realize that the collective value they bring is at an altitude that allows them to effectively strategize, govern, and protect—rather than being mired in the depths of operational details.

MY FAVORITE INSIGHTS from Lesson 20, pages 107-111:
• “When a board member meddles in operational details, the board’s collective value is wasted.”

• “It is during the actual board meetings, of course, when board members face the greatest temptation to delve into operational matters. And the board chair is the first line of defense for keeping discussions at the appropriate level.”
At Life.Church, we have been blessed with a governing board that has willingly operated at the right altitude. Operational meddling has not been an issue for us. As I think back to why that might be the case, I quickly realize it is the altitude we defined and demonstrated. 

Most people will lead and give input at the level you ask of them because they desire to serve the church. The first question I encourage you to ask yourself is “What level am I asking my board to lead?” If that level needs to shift to get to the right governance altitude, determine what aspects need to change. 
   • Do staff present the appropriate amount of detail? 
   • Do questions need to be moderated? 
   • Is there a strategy and agenda for the meeting? Is it followed? 

Understanding this on the front end will bring clarity in communication and interactions, but it will also set appropriate expectations.

We have the benefit of gaining wisdom from a group of people who are successful leaders in the communities where we live and who are passionate about the church. Let’s honor and respect the time we have with them by creating a structure that allows for the most value collectively. This will require us to hold ourselves accountable to the structure, along with others; but, I believe the effort will be worth the outcome. 


PASTOR AMY NIKKEL is the Chief Financial Officer at Life.Church, a multi-site church with 33 locations in 10 states. She is responsible for the operational oversight and strategic direction of all financial operations and influences the global initiatives and strategy of the church. Amy received her MBA with academic honors and has been with Life.Church for the past 12 years.

• Make sure there is an effective philosophy of governance; one that is defined, updated and communicated to the board.
• Make sure there is a healthy culture to demonstrate and support governance objectives. A first step is simply creating an agenda, as “it’s a natural barrier to operational overreach.”
• Visit the ECFA Knowledge Center and read and share the short chapter, Lesson 20, “Apply for a Staff Position and You Can Deal With That Issue!
• Inspire your board members to enrich their governance competencies at the ECFA Governance in Excellence Forums (eight cities, Fall 2019). 

On July 10, 2019, watch for the commentary by John Vawter on Lesson 21, “Back Off the Ledge of Dysfunctional Mayhem.”


BULK ORDERS: Click here.  For more resources and to download the book's Table of Contents, visit the book's webpage.

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