Because of our strong attachments in our congregational communities, emotions can run high during times of change. The energy produced can be creative or destructive.  The savvy leader learns to recognize emerging drama both in themselves and others — and more importantly, learns to respond to different kinds of drama with authenticity and faithfulness.

Here are some tips (adapted from the book The Drama-Free Office: A Guide to Healthy Collaboration with Your Team, Coworkers and Boss by Jim Warner & Kaley Klemp).




  • Makes excuses for own mistakes
  • Blames others when things go wrong
  • Claims there is not enough time or resources
  • Steps back when decisions are being made

Responses to complaining as a leader:

  • Focus on the facts and avoid judgment statements
  • Give them a little time and space to consider your feedback
  • Acknowledge their gifts
  • Offer choices, but let them decide their own plan of action
  • Resist rescuing them!

Responses to a complaining leader:

  • Keep yourself centered and non-judgmental
  • Response positively when they show clear, decisive leadership
  • Let them know you have their full support
  • If you present a problem, be ready to share suggested solutions



  • Focuses on flaws and weaknesses of others
  • Reacts to authority with hostility or cut-off
  • Plays at manipulating the situation by pointless debate, playing devil’s advocate or “poking a stick” from the margins
  • Refuses to reconsider their position

Responses to cynicism as a leader:

  • Be direct, truthful, fair and clear about your goals
  • Challenge them to move beyond their comfort zone
  • Acknowledge their gifts and praise them when they show creativity
  • Ask them to imagine possible positive outcomes, not just problems

Responses to a cynical leader:

  • Respond to their expertise with the spirit of learning from them
  • Help them to understand and appreciate your areas of expertise
  • Be prepared and actively engage when they need to debate — they need to process in dialogue
  • Show your appreciation, but do so in private and without too much elaboration

To Be Continued…..

About the Author
Rev. Renee Ruchotzke
Leadership Development Consultant, Central East Regional Group (CERG) of the UUA. I have a vision of Unitarian Universalist congregations being led by thousands of diverse, spiritually mature and passionate people ready and willing to spread the good news of liberal religion.  I believe ministry is best when shared between lay and professional leaders. More information about me can be found on the UUA website.