Best Board Books #15: Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom (Second Edition)

By John Pearson

Would you trust a surgeon who stopped learning? How about a board member who stopped learning? What’s the “Gold Standard Question” to ask after every board meeting? These questions and more are answered in the just-published second edition of my pick for Book #15.

Book #15:
Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings, Second Edition (Dec. 2018), by Dan Busby and John Pearson
(Order from Amazon)

I confess. Recommending a book I co-authored might seem a tad promotional—but only half-promotional, maybe? Since Dan Busby wrote 20 lessons and I wrote 20 lessons, I can guarantee that at least half of the book (Dan’s half) will serve you well.

The updated Second Edition of the book is now available—with new material and fewer typos. If you missed the first edition, read my review here.
The second edition is subtitled, “40 Insights for Better Board Meetings,” and we’re confident that the format—short lessons with three action steps per lesson—will enrich your board meetings and your God-honoring governance experiences.

Lesson 3, “Break Bread, Not Relationships” (added to this second edition), reminds boards to slow down and focus on three characteristics of healthy boards:

#1. EATING With Intentionality. “Breaking bread together as a board takes time, yes, but meals also slow the pace of board meetings (a good thing) and provide time for relationship building.” We remind you that “food fuels fellowship and fellowship fuels deeper relationships.”

#2. ENJOYING deeper relationships. We quote the poignant line from Jerry and Mary White’s book, To Be a Friend: “A friend is one who walks in when others walk out.” We add, “Pray and work for that level of relationship authenticity on your board.”

And then this caveat: “While we don’t recommend stocking a board with close friends of the CEO—here’s the dilemma: healthy boards ultimately enrich relationships and thus board members do become close friends many times. That should be expected and enjoyed.”

#3. ELIMINATING all distractions. Here we address how devices (iPhones, etc.) exacerbate boardroom dysfunctions—and why some boards commit to device-free zones to keep attention focused on God’s work. We quote Dr. John J. Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and author of the bestseller Brain Rules, who notes: “Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth.”
Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. We pray it will inspire your board!

BOARD DISCUSSION: In his classic book, Leadership Is an Art, Max De Pree warned leaders “to recognize the signals of impending deterioration.” Has your board sprinted to the agenda—and bypassed eating together and enjoying deeper relationships? Has that accelerated God’s work—or is a warning sign of impending deterioration?

Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom, by Dan Busby and John Pearson, including Lesson 29, by guest blogger David Curry, “Think and Pray Outside the Box—and the County.”



This article was originally posted on the “Governance of Christ-Centered Organizations” blog, hosted by ECFA.
John Pearson, a board governance consultant and author, was ECFA’s governance blogger from 2011 to 2020.
© 2021, ECFA and John Pearson. All rights reserved.

This text is provided with the understanding that ECFA is not rendering legal, accounting, or other professional advice or service. Professional advice on specific issues should be sought from an accountant, lawyer, or other professional.