UUA member congregations are small not only because they have difficulty resolving conflict but also because they lack competent leadership. This may be directly related to fifth principle which is "the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large." The attempts to arrive at consensus and the idea that all opinions are equal contribute to severe dysfunction. Democratic decision making has to occur within a framework of options which have advantages and disadvantages. The idea that all opinions are of equal value is fallacious and leads to anarchy and a lack of coherence in organizational values, beliefs, and practices. Without a framework within which to make decisions, organizations are left to flounder and fight.
Good leaderships is based on at least three factors: a viable vision of organizational development and operation based on the integrated requirements and expectations of organizational stakeholders, competent design, implementation and evaluation of key organizational processes, and the embodiment and manifestation of key organizational values. Good leadership facilitates the organizational production of good outcomes, cost efficiently that are customer satisfying. This leadership requires managerial skill and competence which is sorely lacking in most small congregations.
Organizational conflict is not resolved by communication techniques or mediation as much as it is by differentiated leadership. Having principled competent leaders who can communicate a vision, a sense of mission, and who have the courage to make decisions about preferred key processes and the allocation of resources fill the vacuum of ambiguity and indecisiveness that generates rumor, gossip, second guessing, and infighting. The failure of nerve which leads to the feeling that nobody is in charge is a toxic climate in any organization, but especially in a covenantal community such as a church.
Church leaders need to have competent managerial skills to design, implement, and evaluate key processes. "Running" church operations is a sophisticated task in this day and age for any church which has grown from a "mom and pop" operation and aspires to be a more stable community institution.
What are those managerial skills and how can they be developed and evaluated to assure professional quality management of UUA member congregations?
To be continued