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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

21 Mar '13

When there are alignment issues

Posted by T.J. Addington in organizational alignment

Few things are more frustrating to good leaders, staff members or board members than to have an individual on the team who is significantly out of alignment with the rest of the board or staff. It takes just one individual who is not committed to the same direction to stall out what would otherwise be healthy governance or staff dynamics.

The most important work of a staff or board is to ensure that they are clear regarding their direction - and that there is equally clear support for that direction. That clarity is hard work but without it you have people moving in multiple directions and essentially negating the opportunity you have.
Once direction is clarified, what happens if there is a staff member - or board member who simply will not buy into the ministry direction?

At the staff level, the alternative is pretty clear. The staff member needs to find a place of ministry where he or she can minister with a happy heart and a clear conscience. I am constantly amazed at the poor EQ of some individuals who think it is OK to simply go their own direction even if it is at odds with their leader or the team. It is not OK - and leaders need to bite the bullet and transition the individual out of their ministry - or get on board.

Congregations that experience a lot of conflict or lack of directional agreement are usually taking their cues from either a board that is not unified or a staff that is not unified. If boards or staff are not in alignment, the congregation won't be either.

At the board level, it is a harder issue. However, a board can, (if it has the courage), have honest dialogue together and ask an individual to step off the board if they will not cooperate or cannot agree on a common direction.
This is not to stifle robust dialogue at the board level. But if there is not fundamental philosophical agreement after the hard work of determining clarity of direction, then there is a miss-match between the recalcitrant member and the rest of the board. For him or her to stay in leadership in those circumstances is counter productive for both parties.

This can also involve specific issues a board faces. I was once on a church board during significant conflict in the church. One board member was unable to deal with the conflict and come to a decision. I asked him to step off the board for a period of time so that the board could act rather than allow him to keep the board in constant dialogue and put off necessary action.

Wise boards do not allow anyone to join the board who is not in philosophical agreement with the direction of the key leadership (staff and board) or without signing a board covenant that spells out how the board interacts with each other.

There is no possibility of maximizing ministry without alignment in staff and boards. If you have an arrow going in the wrong direction, do what you need to do to resolve the issue.