The Other Shoe Dropped

February 10, 2009 at 11:42 pm (change, Feedback Received, Introspection, Leadership, Musings) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Last night, the other shoe dropped.  I sort of expected the first, but the second one came with more subtlety and finesse. It’s official, I am no longer the leader of this organization.

I never knew what this figure of speech meant until several years ago I lived on the bottom story of a two-story apartment complex.  Almost every night my upstairs neighbor came home after the bars closed.  I’d hear him walk through his bedroom to the bathroom.  When he was done there, he’d come back and sit on the edge of his bed.  First one shoe would hit the floor, then the other.  Finally, his bed would squeak as he settled into a drunken slumber.

Since arriving here, it has been my intent to streamline the systems, leadership, and organizational chart.  Being an earnest, energetic, and eager individual, I dove into my charge with reckless abandon.  Within six months, the board was pared down to a manageable size, an advisory team was stripped of it’s unofficial role as leaders, and we began to take baby steps towards better management and leadership of the organization.

Unfortunately, about every two months, we would rehash the conversations about systems, leadership, and growth.  It was as if the previous conversations had never taken place.  About three months ago, I asked the board, “Am I the leader of this organization, or not.”  They answered with assurance that I was indeed the leader of the organization.  Less than a week later, I received an email from three key leaders that sought to pull me back into a subordinate role.

The interesting thing about non-profit, faith-based organizations is that the leader is hired by the same people they are then charged to lead.  If those people chose to not let you lead them, then one is left impotent.  I haven’t felt impotent until last night.  Up until this point, I figured that I just couldn’t get traction.  It was like one step forward, one step back – every other month.

Sunday night I met with the group of people who, through consensus, have been “leading” for years.  Going into the meeting, I knew that this night would decide, more concretely, what my role is to be.  When they hired me, 16 months ago, I heard them say they wanted a leader who could help them change and grow.  That’s what I’m good at, so I said yes.  Sunday night, they stated, unanimously, that this group composed the true leaders – and the other body were just an administrative board.

While attending the board meeting last night, and reflecting on the conversation from the night before, it became obvious to me that I was no longer the leader of this organization.  The chair of the advisory group is now the leader.

I’ve reflected over this all day, trying to make sense of this.  I’ve figured out, I’m a non-potent force in this organization.

Don’t get me wrong, in this economy, I’m happy to have a job.  Also, I believe I can still make a difference, through a path of influence and relationship building.  But, basically, my hands are tied and I’m impotent.

I have much to learn.


  1. Ryan said,

    Yeah…what can I say. This is a great discovery. Now you are free to be their pastor, I think.

  2. Ryan said,

    Tell me what you think of this…

    Read it yesterday and it really resonates with the way I’ve been led in the past 4-5 years.

  3. rog said,

    that’s actually a pretty good article Ryan, I appreciated what he had to say and brought some reality to the job without taking away the vision. Good one.

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