We’ve all had them, or at least heard of them, they’re the one who always has a negative attitude, always has to be right, always needs to have the last word.
I stumbled across this on Nonprofit Quarterly and thought it worth sharing … perhaps it’s a little tongue in cheek, but it’s a good read nonetheless.
Dear Dr. Conflict:
We have a former board member who left the board feeling that he had “lost” some kind of fight. Ours was not the only board that he left in this way—in fact, he told me about epic battles he had fought on this or that other board where people did not see the light (according to him). He was always the hero in these stories—the bringer of truth; the others were usually described as being motivated by self-interest of some kind. And, actually, he is very smart, but he is also a fire starter, and sometimes in ways that are hard to trace.
So here is my situation. This guy is quite connected vis-à-vis state agencies, and I believe, though I cannot say for certain, that he is having a negative effect on our funders. I get the sense that our relationship with some of the agencies with which we have major contracts has become less robust. Conversations are less open. It is confusing, but I think I do see a pattern.
How do I take such a thing on? What is the best way to proceed?
—Need a New Friend
Dear Need a New Friend,
You don’t just need a new friend—you need a posse. Dr. Conflict has seen people like your former board member many times before, but it’s not all his fault that he’s such a pain. It’s yours, too. Surely you knew about his epic battles before you recruited him? And if you didn’t, why not? What were you thinking, bringing this guy onto the board?
Some readers may say Dr. Conflict is talking to the wrong person. They believe the board alone is responsible for recruiting its members. But Dr. C sides with Robert Herman’s concept of executive centrality, wherein, “since chief executives are going to be responsible and since they accept responsibility for mission accomplishment and public stewardship, they should work to see that boards fulfill their legal, organizational, and public roles.”1 So Dr. Conflict holds you accountable for the mess you’re in.
Here are Dr. Conflict’s recommendations: (1) make sure that this sort of sloppy recruitment doesn’t happen again, and (2) deal with the renegade ex-board member by counterbalancing his message through your own robust advocacy effort.
Continue reading here
How do / would you handle situations like this?