Here is a scenario that I have seen repeated too often. The board of a large church asked me for help regarding conflict between the senior leader and two other leaders who had just been fired, causing an uproar in the congregation.

I discovered that there were at least six staff members who had been fired or left the church on their own accord in the past two years. I asked the board if they (or anyone) had conducted exit interviews, and of course, the answer was no. I interviewed each of these staff members, and the story was a similar account of abuse and bullying by the senior leader. This was not a case of benign neglect of staff but of active belligerence and unkindness toward his reports. 

I asked why the board had not explored these issues, knowing that there was a pattern. They didn't have much to say. Unfortunately this is one of many instances where I have seen boards ignore the obvious because they did not want to wade into unpleasant waters or challenge their leader. 

In their lack of due diligence, they become complicit in the dysfunctional culture created by their leader and the unfortunate pain caused to staff members poorly treated. In this case, when the issues were brought to light with the congregation, the entire board resigned and new board members were elected. 

Boards have responsibilities to guard the culture and health of the organization they represent. When they don't do that in the face of obvious leadership issues, they become complicit. They contribute to the pain of others. And that disfunction spills over into the rest of the organization.

  • Apr 27, 2023
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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