And now to practice what I preach to board chairs

For more than 20 years, a single theme — good boards matter — has dominated my writing, speaking, and consulting work. I’ve crisscrossed the continent seeking converts willing to give their best in pursuit of exemplary board work. Now, in my new role as chair of the MOPS International board, I’m faced with practicing what I preach.

And that, my friends, is a terrifying prospect for a consultant. What if it’s true that those who can, do, and those who can’t, consult?

My fear of failing (and in the process doing harm to a ministry about which I care deeply) has me scrambling for pearls of wisdom about board chairs and the relationship between the chair and the CEO. That’s exactly what a recent issue of  BoardSource’s online Report newsletter provided.

In the opening essay, BoardSource president Linda Compton stresses the importance of succession planning for key board roles. Whose job is it to make this happen? You guessed it. In Compton’s words, “A great chair will mentor future leaders, modeling how governance functions best when the chair works in strategic concert with the chief executive.”

Then there’s an interview in which Phyllis Yale, a consultant at Bain and Co. and a serial board member, lists the quality of the chair- CEO relationship as the number one determiner when considering an invitation to board service. Like most of us, she would “rather spend time helping the organization and the CEO be successful, instead of dealing with unproductive dynamics.”

Finally, the Today’s Hot Issue segment restates Steven Covey’s principles of highly effective people as habits of effective board chairs. It’s a great list with practical suggestions for getting going.

If you give these articles a look, let me know what you think by leaving a comment in the box below.

  • CEOs, do the articles describe what you want/expect in a board chair?
  • Board members, is this the kind of leadership for which you are hoping?
  • And board chairs, on what advice from the three pieces are you most likely to act?


  1. Does this mean I will see you at Christian Leadership Alliance events? Not just with fellow board members but as one of our presenters again? That would be outstanding!

  2. I haven’t been asked, Mark, but I’m open to the possibility — in large part for the opportunity to catch up with friends like you.

  3. Donna Wiedeman says:

    Rebekah, you will be a great board chair. I know how deeply you care about the mission and I know you’ll never forget that the CEO is a person as well as a role. What a wonderful opportunity use your considerable gifts to strengthen an already remarkable organization. I’ll be thinking of you!

  4. Thank you for your kind affirmation, Donna. Great to hear from you and even better to know you are peeking in on Generous Matters.

  5. Rebekah,

    I am still having trouble getting my email subscription to register with you and your blog. Maybe your webmaster can plug it in for me. Sometimes AOL mail does not go through a server for some technical reason. Here is my email. Thank you and God bless.

    jrrysinclair [at] aol [dot] com

    • Hi Jerry, I don’t know what to say in response to your struggle to subscribe to Generous Matters. Unfortunately, I don’t have a webmaster. I hope you’ll continue to read Generous Matters via LinkedIn.

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