If you’re a senior leader who attends board meetings solo, I may have just ruffled your feathers. But hear me out. As a senior leader myself, I know I play a unique role in our organization, but I also know I’m not the end-all. In fact, by God’s design, each of our giftings is accompanied by built-in limitations. We need each other, and we’re better together. Here’s why I think having appropriate staffers participate in board meetings is healthy for your organization.
I’ve lived it both ways. Early on in ministry, I served at a small non-profit with a handful of staffers. The director represented the ministry at board meetings, and for a season all seemed well. In time, though, it was clear the board didn’t have a full picture of the organization’s health, and the ministry declined. When several of us moved on to different ministries, we determined to include other staff members at board meetings if we were ever in senior leadership. Here’s why:
1) Board/Staff Cohesion. If you’re the only staff member at board meetings, you’re like the narrow point of an hour glass. Only so much sand can flow through. But if several staffers attend the meetings, more relational equity and ministry knowledge flows back and forth between your board and staff. There’s a built-in safeguard against misrepresenting one entity to the other, since several staffers are “in the know” regarding board discussions.
2) Visionary and Strategic Leadership. Staffers who are part of the regular visioning and strategizing for your overall ministry function will bring essential perspective to board meetings. Even though you’re on the same page with this leadership team and could speak for them, they’ll convey important nuances of thought that will give the board a more fully-orbed picture of the ministry. Plus, as the breadth of your outreach grows, these leadership team staff members will have their own areas of oversight and will be best at relaying these to the board.
3) Depth of Expertise. When you have staffers who shoulder certain administrative and financial responsibilities – it can be valuable to have their input at board meetings. Written reports are often sufficient. But when board discussions require a certain level of expertise, it’s great to have those staffers present. For instance, we’ve occasionally invited our business manager to board meetings to field high-level financial questions.
1) Loss of Sole Expertise. Truth be told, as senior leaders we don’t know everything, and having additional staff at board meetings will make this readily apparent. We just need to repent of our pride and thank God for the strong team He’s put in place.
2) Loss of Exclusivity. When other staffers participate in board meetings, board members naturally develop relationships with them. You no longer have first dibs on relationships with board members. But there will be a greater breadth of relationship between the board and staff, which is healthier for the organization.
When senior leaders include leadership team staff members at board meetings, they demonstrate humility, an honoring of others, an understanding of how the body of Christ functions, and a commitment to productive board and staff interaction. Christ is Head of our organizations, and as we follow His lead for board meeting participation, His growth in our ministries will be evident.
“… holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” Colossians 2:19
“There’s one superstar in our ministries. His name is Jesus."- Lisa Hosler
How has God led you regarding staff participation in board meetings? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.