Jannice is the owner of a small consulting company that provides coaching to governing boards, specializing in teaching a servant-leadership style of governance. This gives her and her 11 employees a very natural way to present Jesus to her clients.
What is your business?
I am the owner of a small company that coaches governing boards.
How did you get started?
When I first began the business nearly 25 years ago, it was a big leap to go from a regular paycheck to the unknown. But there was such clear guidance from God that is was the right thing to do.
I worked for many years in health care in administrative and consulting capacities, most recently with a provincial health care association, where I directed the development of education for boards and CEOs.
When the government decided to regionalize health boards in 1994, our association staff was drastically reduced, and my entire department disappeared.
I had been toying with the idea of starting my own business for several years, but was enjoying my work, and just didn't take that step. This situation now left me with an opportunity.
I had been praying about what I should do for about 6 months, and kept getting the answer, "wait."
So I waited.
Then one day I received a phone call from someone who knew I was doing work in the governance area as part of my job. She was sitting on a board that had some problems, and basically wanted to pick my brain. So we talked for an hour or so.
Then I heard coming out of my mouth, totally unplanned by me, "well, I suppose I could come and talk to your board some weekend if they want to know more." The conversation ended and I basically forgot about it.
I build the concept of servant-leadership into every presentation
About 2 weeks later, she called me back, and said her board wanted me to visit them, so we set a date.
Shortly after, I received a call from someone I didn't know at all. She was the CEO for a neighbouring board, and had heard that I was coming to do a session for them. She wanted to know if I could do the same for her board.
So, within a short time, I had two clients.
As it turned out, the dates booked were the very next week after my job disappeared. I didn't know if or when that date might be when booking the two boards.
To me, that was very clear direction that God wanted me to start this consulting company, so I took the leap.
Within 3 months I was completely booked!
Since then, the company has grown from me, myself, and I, to 8 additional consulting team members across North America, and a support staff of 3.
If you want, can you explain a bit about your faith journey?
I was blessed to be brought up in a Christian home and came to faith at age 6. Since I was 13, I have been involved in the music ministry of my local church.
Starting at that age, I have played either piano or organ at church wherever I have been. At this point, I am one of a team of 4 that rotates the job. For many years I also conducted a small chorus at church, producing several children's musicals along the way.
I was involved with the Cursillo Movement in the Anglican Church, a weekend intensive experience that brings people – often nominally Christian – face to face with the claims of Christ, and then sets them on a path of discipleship with supports along the way.
I was the Lay Director of our local movement (then in Edmonton), and worked as part of the team on many weekends.
Do you think of your business as a ministry?
Yes, I do consider my business a ministry.
In a broad sense, helping boards to more effectively direct their organizations to achieve their missions contributes to making the world a better place.
The model of governance in which my business specializes is Policy Governance ®. One of its fundamental principles is that the board is not there for itself, but for its owners, those on whose behalf it governs, and that the board's relationship with those owners should be one of servant-leadership.
So I build the concept of servant-leadership into every presentation, and use it as an opportunity to note that the concept was one taught by Jesus Christ.
What are some ways in which you run your business differently than someone who is not a believer?
Over the last number of years we have added several consultants who specifically focus on working with churches and mission agencies, and I do some of that as well.
These consultants work at a lower fee with smaller churches and missions, which results in less overall income to the company. This is part of my personal ministry, as well as theirs, giving back to organizations that have a mission related to eternal values.
We have added several consultants who specifically focus on working with churches and mission agencies
As well, a majority of our team members are committed Christians, although I have not made that a criterion for being part of the team.
However, all members must be committed to integrity in all of our dealings.
We do our best to treat all clients with respect, both as people, and showing respect for their ideas and the work they have done, even if we are coaching them to improve it.
I am not sure that this is unique to Christians, but it is certainly necessary for a Christian business.
Should we grow businesses or keep them small? Do you think that faith plays a role in this at all, or is this question irrelevant?
I don't think this question is directly related to faith.
Businesses themselves are not "Christian" or "non-Christian". The people in them are.
If a Christian business owner is paying attention to God's direction for the business, that is the important part. For some, this may mean growing; for others it may mean remaining smaller.
Do you struggle with the ethics of selling and marketing? What has helped you with this?
I would not call this a struggle exactly.
I was raised not to "toot my own horn", so it has taken some work on my part to be comfortable "putting myself out there" in terms of marketing materials, videos, etc.
However, if I really believe that the work our company does is helpful to organizations in making the world a better place and in furthering the Kingdom, then I would be doing them a disservice if I did not let them know about how we can help and they end up either not getting help, or engaging someone who cannot give them the experience and knowledge that our team has.
How do you think about work/life balance?
This is an ongoing struggle for me. (See my list of books below, many of which are about life balance)
A challenge of being a business owner is that it is very easy to work 24/7.
I learned many years ago that it is critical to take "free time" for rejuvenation, worship, spiritual retreat, and time with family. Now I book "free days" first in my calendar, and nothing is allowed to intrude on that time.
Everything else has to be scheduled around them, which forces more focus on those days that I am working.
Do you have any books or other resources that you would recommend to other Christian business owners?
- Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership – Ruth Haley Barton
- God in My Everything – Ken Shigamatsu
- Sacred Rhythms – Ruth Haley Barton
- Too Busy Not to Pray – Bill Hybels
- Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge – James Kouzes and Barry Posner
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