Alert! The ER Factor Causes Value Extraction

Beware of the ER Factor in the Boardroom—ego and rivalry.


by Dan Busby and John Pearson


Board members who desire to be strong-ER, loud-ER,
who focus on pow-ER, or want to be a winn-ER
are the antithesis of collaboration.[1]

Randy Ross and David Salyers

When recruiting church board members, one of the biggest mistakes boards make is to assess people only in the context of their employment or their volunteer church involvement. However, people can change dramatically when they get the board member brass ring.

When new board members are chosen, we always hope that they will create value in their board work. Yet two possibilities are crystal clear: board members will either create value or extract value. Few will function in the middle of that continuum.

Value creators bring a positive attitude to each board meeting. They check any thoughts of personal agendas at the door, and interact with collegiality. They focus on the vision of the ministry and contribute to its fulfillment. Value creators make generous gifts to the church and identify those who may serve in key staff and volunteer positions. They operate in “growth gear.”

Then there are those who extract value in the boardroom. When a board member puts I over us, value is extracted. Unfortunately, it’s a common dysfunction. When a board member extracts value, it will prompt a downward spiral in the boardroom.

This spiral is multiplied by the “ER Factor,” which occurs when a board member competes against others and positions himself or herself over others. This is the opposite of humility. ER is short­hand for two components that are always prominent in value extraction: ego and rivalry.[2]

Ego and rivalry often lead a board member to elevate self over others by posturing oneself as smart-ER, strong-ER, and bright-ER (which essentially implies bett-ER) than others. This creates a competitive atmosphere in the boardroom, with a clear winn-ER and a clear los-ER.

How does a board discern whether a new member is a value creator or a value extractor? Ask these eight questions:

  1. Does the board member enter the boardroom with a receptivity to hearing from the Holy Spirit?
  2. Does the board member attend all board meetings and arrive on time?
  3. Has the board member read the pre-board meeting materials and comes prepared to discuss them?
  4. When the board member enters into discussion around the board table, is it obvious that the board member is a good listener and does not dominate board discussions?
  5. Is the board member respectful of other board members, speaking kindly and with grace even when sharing strongly held opinions and convictions?
  6. In sidebar discussions when the board is in recess, does the board member make deposits into relationships?
  7. Does the board member strictly abide by the ministry’s confidentiality policy and affirm the cardinal rule: What happens in the boardroom stays in the boardroom?
  8. Does the board member focus on policy matters and avoid operational issues?

During every board meeting and in between board meetings, board members are either making withdrawals from, or making deposits to, good governance. When value extraction exceeds or nearly exceeds value creation, a board member is at risk of outliving his or her usefulness to the board.

When every board member is creating value and making deposits into their good governance accounts, your board will lead at a remarkable level.



Board members either create value or extract value.
Instead of ego and rivalry, board members must model humility
and live in growth gear—engaging with truth through honest evaluation
and maintaining a solution-oriented perspective.
Demonstrating a heart for we versus me inspires
other board members to do the same.

  Board Action Steps:

  1. Read: Challenge a board member to read and report on the book Remarkable!: Maximizing Results Through Value Creation by Randy Ross and David Salyers.[3]

  2. Reflect: Thoughtfully (and confidentially) assess your current board composition to determine if any board members represent significant value extractors.

  3. Re-align: If you do have value extractors on your board, spiritually discern if and how you can inspire them to become value creators.



Lord, help us recruit value creators to the boardroom
and Your work. Amen.



[1] Randy Ross and David Salyers, Remarkable!: Maximizing Results through Value Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2016), 104.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.


From Lessons From the Church Boardroom: 40 Insights for Exceptional Governance, ECFAPress, 2018, www.ECFA.Church/KnowledgeCenter.

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.