Best Board Books #2: The Imperfect Board Member

By John Pearson

Over the coming weeks, I’m recommending some of the most insightful books on board governance—some “secular” and some Christ-centered. Pick one that fits your board’s culture and needs.

BOOK #2: The Imperfect Board Member: Discovering the Seven Disciplines of Governance Excellence, by Jim Brown (click here to order from Amazon) - You can read my review by clicking here.

Patrick Lencioni wrote the foreword to The Imperfect Board Member and quotes the author: “A greeter at Walmart gets more orientation than most board members ever do.” Too true!

Brown’s seven disciplines of board governance are memorable:
• Direct
• Protect
• Connect
• Expect
• Correct
• Select
• Inspect

With big print, mind-grabbing graphics, and a storyline in the tradition of Ken Blanchard and Patrick Lencioni books, you’ll value the author’s seven disciplines in this leadership fable about business boards, nonprofit boards, and faith-based boards. Interestingly, the “guru” in this fable is a pastor of a large church—and he’s governance-savvy.

Jim Brown, a board consultant (visit Strive!) writes, “The best boards keep their noses in the business and their fingers out!” He adds, “The only way a board can responsibly do its job without meddling is by monitoring very well.” This story tells you how to do that.

Why is this on my “Best Board Books” list?
• The story format means your board members will actually read the book.
• The story is just 156 pages (plus very helpful resources).
• Memorable one-liners: “Boards don’t need to hear how busy the CEO is—they need to hear about results.”

One bonus: The graphic on page 41 gives the clearest picture of how communication, authority, and accountability work together when board members are also customers. Brilliant.

BOARD DISCUSSION: The author writes, “Beware of the ‘board of protectors,’ because it will focus on minimizing risks rather than maximizing opportunities. Boards must direct and protect.” How would we rate our board on balancing risk and opportunities?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here


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.