When you go to the doctor or the emergency room, one of the first things they do is take your vital signs. These signs are called “vital” for a reason. When any one of the vital signs, like blood pressure or temperature, is far out of the acceptable range, you know you have a problem that needs to be dealt with. The same is true for boards; you need to regularly check the vital signs. The following lists include vital signs related to healthy and unhealthy boards.
Does your board look like this?
Signs of a Healthy Board
- Clear expectations for the board and the Director
- Relentless pursuit of relationship among the board and with the Director
- Frequent and transparent communication
- High level of trust and confidence with one another
- Compelling and unifying vision and strategy
- Agreed upon expectations
- Few unhealthy “surprises”
- Flexibility and forgiveness
- Periodic board evaluation
Or does your board look more like this?
Signs of an Unhealthy Board
- Members withholding essential questions
- Difficulty in recruiting competent members
- Avoidance of difficult discussions
- Surprising decisions, actions or words
- Frequent attrition, poor attendance, infrequent giving
- Unexpected resignations of board member or executive staff
- Regular turnover of the Director.
- Minimal vulnerability in sharing about personal lives
- Key discussions often taking place outside the board
The Erosion of Leadership
Leadership erosion that leads to an unhealthy board can begin to take place when expectations are not agreed upon or clear as noted in the graphic below. And the consequences can be devastating. Expectation agreement and management is truly mission-critical!
Defining the Roles and Expectations
One of the ways to keep your leadership from eroding and to keep your board healthy is to make sure all expectations for those in leadership are explicitly outlined. Here is a list that defines the roles and expectations for those in leadership at your organization.
Strong leadership and clearly defined expectations are just two aspects of having a healthy board. If any of the "Signs of an Unhealthy Board" are present in your leadership, check out the article "Building Healthy and Effective Boards" in our book GUIDE – Building the Team. Setting the Direction. Fulfilling the Mission..
Jay is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton. Jay brings experience in the areas of ministry assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.Ed in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.