Called to Serve: Don’t Neglect Your CEO’s Growth

By John Pearson

Note: This is No. 28 in a series of blogs featuring wisdom from the 91-page gem by Max De Pree, Called to Serve: Creating and Nurturing the Effective Volunteer Board.

Max De Pree: “In the rush of the day to day, a president often neglects his own growth; the board can issue a friendly reminder every once in a while.”

In wrapping up his succinct section on how boards create “space” for the men and women who serve as CEOs, I found this insight stunning: De Pree ties mission, strategy and a CEO’s personal growth altogether.

He writes, “There are two further elements to providing space. It is wonderful for the organization’s future when the board takes a strong interest in opportunities given the president for personal growth and when the board makes it clear that it expects the president to hold the entire organization accountable for realizing its mission and strategy.”

So…would you agree that when the board cares about the CEO’s growth—and the CEO cares about the growth of team members—there will be a direct relationship between personal growth and organizational growth, especially when the mission and strategy are crystal clear?

Frequently, budget cuts begin by slashing opportunities for CEO and senior team enrichment—which is short-sighted. It reminds me of this poignant comment traversing the Internet (if you know the original source, please contact me):

CFO to CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?

CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and then they stay?”

Christ-centered boards should have the same mindset: inspiring their CEOs to thrive by providing an adequate budget and time for personal and professional growth. Amen?

BOARD EXERCISE: If your CEO was regularly accountable for reporting progress on personal and professional growth SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related), would the dashboard show red, yellow, or green?


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.