Fail to clarify what is critical for the congregation
Good leaders clarify and communicate mission, guiding principles, central ministry focus and what spiritual vitality looks like. Without clarity, there is not direction and without direction there is no focus. It is accidental rather than intentional ministry.
Focus on the small stuff
The small details of church life do not move the ministry forward. It is certainly not the task of church boards to deal with the small rocks. It is easy to be deceived that the small day to day details are important. They are for someone - but not for the board which is responsible for clarifying and driving the large important issues of mission.
Don't resolve conflict
Unresolved conflict either on the board or within the congregation kills missional effectiveness and hijacks needed energy for ministry. Wise boards never allow unresolved conflict to fester - they deal with it.
Don't police themselves
Many boards allow behavior that is sinful, counterproductive or simply poor leadership. Wise boards ensure that their behavior is a model for the congregation and that their time is wisely spent on the important issues - including coming to decisions in a timely fashion. Wise boards have leadership covenants that each member signs that spells out how they work together.
Are intimidated by the few loud voices
Too many boards acquiesce to loud voices in the congregation and surrender to those voices even when they know that God is calling them to action. Wise leaders are not intimidated by loud voices who usually represent far less influence than they think they have.
Allow someone in the church to have informal veto power over church decisions
No one person has the authority to decide what the congregation does or does not do. In fact, no leader by themselves have that authority but only the board together and the congregation as it follows. Wise leaders do not allow any individual to control the direction of the church. And when necessary, they face them down.
Don't guard the gate
Who gets into leadership matters. Not guarding the leadership gate is one of the most foolish things boards and congregations do. Poor leaders will give you poor leadership and one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch. Whoever chooses leaders actually has the most power for good or ill in the church. Ensure you have a way to ensure the right leaders are chosen. In this matter, churches get what they deserve.
Allow elephants in the room
Elephants are those issues that everyone knows are there but no one is willing to name or deal with. Unfortunately those elephants are usually the very issues that MUST be resolved if the congregation is to move forward. Ignoring the elephants is not only dumb but deeply harmful.
Don't use an agenda and stay on task
Agendas may seem pedestrian but they are not. Agendas force boards to prioritize their work and stay on task - dealing with the big rocks rather than the pebbles and sand. Board meetings without agendas are a sign of accidental and non-prioritized leadership.
Don't empower staff
Boards that do not empower their staff to design and manage day to day ministry are doing management by committee. It has never worked and never will work but church boards try to do it all the time. Staff designs, board refines! Boards determine policy and direction, staff manage day to day ministry and ensure that the policy and direction are carried out. Boards do governance and staff ensures day to day ministry happens.