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Don's Corner

To Your Health

A Balanced Healthy Relationship Between the CEO/Executive Director and the Board of Directors

The concept of teamwork is an often mentioned subject in today’s workplace. Perhaps nowhere is that more necessary than in the relationship of the CEO/Executive Director and the Board of Directors of a Christian camp. Many Christian camp board members have been micro-managers resulting in an operations board, rather than a policy board. As the boards become more policy oriented and more professional people join the ranks, some key issues need resolution in order to build an effective team.It’s important to define the role of each team member.

The Board has three key responsibilities: wealth (the ability to give and help to raise money); work (the ability to serve on committees and do good board work); and wisdom (the ability to make good decisions). The Executive Director has three key roles: 1) lead the organization and cast vision; 2) carry out the policies established by the Board; and 3) administer and manage the ministry. These roles and responsibilities must be documented. The Board needs an updated board handbook which spells out its role, responsibilities and job description. We spoke about this in one of our earlier Journal articles. The Executive Director needs an updated, clear job description, including expectations.

In order to have a healthy relationship with the Executive Director, the Board must understand that this individual is not an ordinary employee. He or she is the only employee that the Board has. They are the key link to the ministry and carry out policy and direct the staff in its on-going work and ministry. The Board needs to view the Executive Director as a trusted teammate.

How do you build trust between the Board and the Executive Director?

  • No meetings without the Director present – It breaks trust and ignores the best resource the Board has in making decisions. If the Board has issues with the Director, those should be dealt with in a meeting with that individual present.
  • Annual reviews with agreed upon criteria and evaluation tools – This is a process involving both the Director and the Board (preferably the Executive Committee).
  • No “end runs” around the Director to staff. (We’ll write more about this in an upcoming article.)
  • Get to know the Director’s family with times for Board and Director to have social interaction and fellowship.
  • Express your gratitude – The words “Thank you” followed by “for doing a great job” is music to a Director’s ears.

Some key questions you should ask about your organization:

  • Is there open and clear communication between the Executive Director and the Board?
  • Is the decision making process clearly understood, i.e., what does the Board determine and what does the Executive Director have permission to determine?
  • Is the Board truly serving as a policy board?

Three final observations:

  1. An Executive Director should receive fair and adequate compensation for his or her services. I suggest you find the median salary for your size of camp with the assistance of CCI and have your Director’s salary slightly above that median.
  2. Help your Director to grow both spiritually and professionally through providing time for advanced training. This should include CCI Sectional and National conferences, as well as management courses, development courses and in some cases Seminary or graduate courses in Bible.
  3. If the CEO of your ministry is called elsewhere or is retiring, make the transition time a time of celebration, growth, review and critical planning for the future.

Action Questions:

  • Does your Board Handbook clearly spell out the relationship between the Executive Director and the Board?
  • Do your Executive Sessions (Board meeting time without staff present) include the Executive Director?
  • Are you helping your Director grow spiritually and professionally?


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