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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.

02 Dec '08

Toxic team and board members

Both ministry teams and church boards need to guard against a common enemy - toxic members of the team. While toxicity comes in many forms it shares one common trait: toxic members make an otherwise healthy team or board dysfunctional and unhealthy. And it only takes one individual but the toxin is deadly.

Some of the common toxins that hurt teams and boards are:

Cannot work in a team
These are individuals who need to have their own way even if the board or team has decided differently. Because they do not have a commitment to abide by decisions of the rest of the group, they will either ignore the group and do their own thing or undermine the decision outside the team or board meeting. Non team members do not belong on a team or a board because they will not honor either of them.

Causes relational chaos
Have you ever met someone who seems to cause chaos in relationships on a regular basis. Well, it is usually an emotional intelligence problem and it kills team or board effectiveness. They always have a reason and it is usually someone else's fault when it happens but where there is a pattern pay attention.

Cannot make decisions
People who cannot make decisions often love the process, conversation and endless discussions but when it comes to saying, "this is what we will do," they cannot pull the trigger. This inability pulls the team or board down to a lower level than it would otherwise operate at, dis empowers other members and causes a great deal of frustration.

Cannot execute
People who cannot get things done do not belong on either a team or a board. The bottom line of both are results on their mission (Return on Mission). Non producers are directly violating the purpose of the group, pull the group's level down and frustrates other good members.

Will not forgive
Scripture tells us to keep short accounts. Those who will not forgive and hold grudges for real or perceived grievances are a cancer that affects the others. Unresolved relationships destroy team or board trust and trust is the foundation of any group work. The result of unforgiveness is mistrust, bitterness, and an unwillingness to work with those who they will not forgive. Often, these individuals have taken on the offence of others with the same impact.

Narcissistic People
These are people who think that life is about them: their way, their ideas, their wisdom and their decisions. These are truly toxic individuals because they are not even able to understand their toxicity, narcissistic people don't understand they are narcissistic.

People who mistrust those in authority
There is a built in mistrust of authority in many people which makes it very difficult for them to serve in a healthy manner on teams or boards. Their mistrust shows itself in an attitude to cynicism on the one hand and superiority on the other. Those who mistrust generally gravitate toward others who mistrust, take up their mistrust and telegraph that mistrust to others, undermining leaders in the organization.

Can people grow? Yes. Should we expect them to grow on our team or our board? Probably not. As long as an individual is causing significant problems to a team or board they should be removed or step off, given the help they need and if there is progress given another chance. We need to be graceful but not stupid or willing to compromise our mission.