TOOL 20 Review – Tent Cards & Tools for Leveraging Board Member Strengths

By John Pearson

Inspiring Deep Engagement in the Boardroom

How do we inspire the deep engagement of our board members? Leverage their strengths!

The authors of Strengths Based Leadership write, “The odds of an employee [or a board member] being engaged are a dismal 1 in 11 (9%). But when an organization’s leadership focuses on the strengths of its employees, the odds soar to almost 3 in 4 (73%).” (Read my review.)

How do we inspire the deep engagement of our board members? Start with this tool!


Inspire your board to complete the online CliftonStrengths® assessment and then create tent cards and tools to leverage strengths at every board and committee meeting!Tool #20 in the new resource, ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance, is one of four tools in Part 6, “Ideas for Better Board Governance,” in this jam-packed 272-page resource. This tool features four ways to identify board member strengths—and keep them on the front burner.

Imagine! What if everyone on your board received committee assignments that leveraged their strengths! We recommend that you give every board member a “strengths assessment.” Each “StrengthsFinder” book (below) includes a unique access code for completing an online assessment at the Gallup Strengths Center. After you complete the 20- to 30-minute assessment, you will receive a list (and commentary) of your Top-5 strengths.

Many boards compile these strengths into a chart so that committee assignments and volunteer work are delegated according to a person’s unique strengths. Each book (below) includes mini-descriptions of each of the 34 talent themes. (For example: my top strength is “Focus®” and Gallup notes that “people exceptionally talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.”

  • Book Option #1: Living Your Strengths: Discover Your God-Given Talents and Inspire Your Community (order from Amazon)

  • Book Option #2: StrengthsFinder 2.0: Discover Your CliftonStrengths (order from Amazon)

  • Book Option #3: Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams and Why People Follow (order from Amazon)

If you serve on a church board, you’ll appreciate this personal testimony in Living Your Strengths:

“After serving almost four years on the church board, I had yet to fully know or understand those with whom I was working. The extent of our personal knowledge about one another went little beyond being asked to ‘share your favorite movie.’

“At the initiation of a new church board chair and a new executive pastor, we underwent strengths coaching, both individual and team. Everyone engaged in the process, and I learned more about my teammates in one evening than in all my previous years on the board. It was the most meaningful and significant times we’ve spent together.” (Read my review.)

Tool #20 shares ideas and templates for 1) wallet-size strengths cards, 2) tent cards for board meetings, 3) a board chart listing board member names and strengths—within the four arenas discussed in Strengths Based Leadership (Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking), and 4) a source for attractive coffee mugs listing your strengths.

Order the tools book from Amazon by clicking on this title: ECFA Tools and Templates for Effective Board Governance: Time-Saving Solutions for Your Board

BOARD DISCUSSION: Tom Rath and Barry Conchie write, “While the best leaders are not well-rounded, the best teams are.” How “well-rounded” is our board? Do we know and leverage the strengths and spiritual gifts of our board members to enrich their engagement in God’s work through our organization?

MORE RESOURCES: In Lesson 25 for the Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom Blog, Erika Cole writes, “we are reminded that we all have different strengths, social styles and spiritual gifts (which form the “Three Powerful S’s”). It is a mistake not to consider the unique qualities that each person possesses when considering committee assignments.” Click here to read her guest blog, “Align Board Member Strengths With Committee Assignments.”


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.