Search Committee ChairEvery executive search is different.  And every search committee is different. While FaithSearch can manage a search process and advise/guide a search committee, ultimately, it’s the committee that will make the final decisions regarding whom it will interview and to whom it will offer the job.

Within the search committee structure, the committee chair leads what is often an odd-numbered team. (We typically suggest seven- or nine-member search committees.) The chair would then, in theory, serve as the swing vote, when needed. This is a common best practice put in place to avoid ties, though every search committee should strive for more consensus than a single vote majority would provide.

But the search committee chair’s vote doesn’t always have to be their biggest impact on the selection of a candidate. FaithSearch Partners consultants have led executive searches for more than 30 years, and two searches stand out as inspirational examples of what can happen when a praying, sacrificial search committee chair steps back, abstains and leads their organizations through major decisions.

The first example came several years ago when a large faith-based organization engaged FaithSearch to guide its search for a new president. This particular committee included eight members, including the chair. The search went well, and FaithSearch helped the committee narrow its choices to two excellent final candidates.

Both candidates were interviewed a second time, and the feeling was the organization couldn’t go wrong either way.  However, the committee was split on their first choice. When the committee met to make their recommendation, the vote was tied at four for each candidate, and no amount of discussion could break the tie.

The committee broke for a season of prayer, and when they reconvened to vote again, the results were the same – four for each candidate. After more discussion, they broke for a second season of prayer. Once again when they voted, each candidate received four votes. Only this time, they were reversed. All of the committee members had switched their votes to the other candidate!

After thoughtfully considering their situation, the search committee chair decided to abstain from voting, offering to only vote to break a tie. The committee prayed again, and the result was 5-2 in favor of the candidate for whom the chair had originally supported. Through his sacrificial, prayerful leadership, the impasse was resolved.

In the second example, another faith-based organization partnered with FaithSearch to lead the search for its next president. In this case, the search committee consisted of seven members.

Once again, the committee narrowed the selection to two final candidates. It was very clear to all involved the committee was split into two camps. The first vote resulted in a 3-3 tie, which led to serious deliberation and significant discussion, after which the deadlock remained firm. The committee prayed for wisdom and discernment, voted again, but the tie remained.

The search committee chair’s role in this situation was to break the tie. But, when the time came, he abstained. He realized that if he broke the 3-3 tie, the vote margin would only be one vote, which was too close for the president position. This was a big hire, and he believed they needed a stronger consensus than a single vote majority.

Inspired by the chair’s decision to sacrifice voting for his preferred candidate, one block of members chose the path of unity over discord.  The next and final vote was a unanimous decision.

While FaithSearch is called to find differential leaders for Christian organizations, it is amazing to see God work. When we make sacrifices and put decisions in God’s hands through prayer, he will always lead us to the best outcomes.

FaithSearch Partners celebrates the leaders who put their organizations, committees, candidates, and communities above themselves. They serve those around them, and we love to serve them. We focus on securing the right leaders for Christian organizations and on setting an example for others in business. If you’re looking for leadership that will follow and set a Christian example as these leaders did, FaithSearch Partners is an elite executive search firm that specializes in finding and securing those leaders.

We have a proven track record of securing leaders for nonprofit, academic, and athletic organizations. Contact the FaithSearch team today for more information.

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