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Best Board Books #4: Stewards of a Sacred Trust

By John Pearson

Here’s a very helpful book on CEO selection—as part of my series on “best board books.” But note—read this well in advance before your current CEO retires, resigns, or is terminated.

Book #4: Stewards of a Sacred Trust: CEO Selection, Transition and Development for Boards of Christ-centered Organizations, by David L. McKenna

What makes this book, published by ECFAPress, so timely, practical and readable? Who but an octogenarian can get away with segmenting ministry CEOs into these six descriptive categories? McKenna says that boards:
• Love Patriarchs
• Admire Prodigies
• Respect Achievers
• Tolerate Caretakers
• Pity Bunglers
• and Shun Pariahs.

The book features informative and accountability-focused checklists at the end of each chapter. Twenty-two chapters. Twenty-two checklists. The lists alone are worth the price of the book.

McKenna ably defines and balances the solemn duty and sacred trust of a board member. He writes, “Election of the CEO separates Christ-centered organizations from other organizations because it is a sacred trust. While the professional standards for the search process must be the same for all organizations, Christ-centered organizations have a spiritual dimension that cannot be denied. For good reason, ‘cookie-cutter consulting’ should be vigorously resisted on presidential search in Christ-centered organizations. Likewise, attempts to spiritualize the process at the expense of professional integrity cannot be tolerated.”

Every board chair and CEO should order and read this book. You may not need it today, but unless your CEO is named Methuselah, you will need it eventually.

BOARD DISCUSSION: Dr. McKenna used six memorable names to label different kinds of CEOs. Do you agree with those categories or have you observed other types?

BONUS QUESTION:In Ram Charan’s book (watch for my next review), Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask, Question #4 asks, “Are we well prepared to name our next CEO?” So…if our CEO ended up in heaven next week (good news/bad news), is our board prepared?

MORE RESOURCES: Follow the “40 Blogs. 40 Wednesdays.” color commentaries on Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom. Click here. And view the four short videos with your board in the latest ECFA Governance Toolbox Series No. 4 on succession planning. 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.

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