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The Power of Passion: It’s OK to Say No!

By John Pearson

A leader recently told me that while she had said yes to a volunteer opportunity—she should have said NO!

“Looking back now,” she told me, “I realized I had zero passion for the project. I said yes, but that was a big mistake.”

How many times is this scenario inappropriately played out in your boardroom? Recognize anyone here?
• Your board chair asks Chandler to lead the task force. She’s amazingly effective—but has zero passion for this assignment. She says yes—but has no joy in the task.
• Your CEO needs a board member to represent the ministry at a community event. Roberto is a team player and says yes, but procrastinates in his preparation—and it shows. He didn’t bring his A game.
• Suzanne’s social style is “amiable.” She’s a pleaser and said yes to a last-minute request. Her congeniality exceeds her competence. Another bungled assignment.

Hans Finzel writes “When who we are lines up with the role we are in, then we are in a place of passion.” He urges leaders (and I would add, board members) to say yes ONLY when opportunities fall in the “The Passion Zone.”

In describing the passion zone, Finzel asks: How much does “The Leader” circle (gifts, abilities, strengths, personalities, values, calling) overlap with “The Role” circle (followers, culture, responsibilities, activities, situation, history)?

While his book speaks mostly to organizational leaders, savvy board members will find it immediately convicting also. Board members could use a serious does of Finzel’s transparency:

“The number one issue for me was passion.
My heart was no longer engaged in my job—the fire had gone out.
My heart had left the building.”


Click here to read my review of The Power of Passion in Leadership: Lead From Your Heart, Not Just Your Head, by Hans Finzel (just 73 pages).

Here’s the gut check for board members: does your board service (including your ad hoc assignments) leverage your “3 Powerful S’s” (Spiritual Gifts, Strengths, and Social Styles)? If not, your board work will often be a draining experience. That’s not God’s plan!

What should you do?
• Ask a wise and trusted friend if your board service is adding to Kingdom impact and your joy—or detracting from it.
• Say “NO!” when assignments will not align with your giftedness and passion.
• Say “YES!” when assignments bring you joy and others affirm your passion.

Finzel notes Proverbs 4:23 in the NIV: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

BOARD DISCUSSION: Are we asking the right board members to tackle the right assignments? Are we getting an appropriate number of “no” responses—perhaps meaning board members are telling us the truth about what brings them joy?

MORE RESOURCES: Erika Cole shares wisdom on this issue in her guest blog, “Align Board Member Strengths With Committee Assignments,” based on chapter 25 in Lessons From the Nonprofit Boardroom: 40 Insights for Better Board Meetings (Second Edition), by Dan Busby and John Pearson.

 

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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