Here are some more tips for the savvy leader to learn how to recognize and respond to drama both in themselves and others. (adapted from the book The Drama-Free Office: A Guide to Healthy Collaboration with Your Team, Coworkers and Boss by Jim Warner & Kaley Klemp).




  • Wants to be in on every decision
  • Impatient with others’ learning curves or ideas; resists delegating
  • More task-focused than relationship-focused
  • Becomes angry or frustrated when challenged or confronted

Responses to controlling behavior as a leader:

  • Give clear direction and boundaries for them within the context of the congregation’s mission
  • Be clear and direct when they violate those boundaries
  • Require regular updates on progress
  • Encourage and support them in empowering others
  • Insist on their full support once a decision is made

Responses to a controlling leader:

  • Make sure they they get credit when it’s their due
  • Demonstrate your loyalty and support in helping to serve the congregation’s mission
  • Insist on clear agreements about what you are promising to do
  • Respond positively when they delegate or show trust



  • Takes on too many commitments
  • Sacrifices their own health or wellbeing for the congregation
  • Rushes in to fix or take over the minute someone is struggling — doesn’t allow others to grow and learn in the struggle
  • Sets poor boundaries

Responses to caretaking as a leader:

  • Coach them to set good boundaries, for themselves and others
  • Spend time on coaching — help them to see how their overcommitment doesn’t serve the mission
  • Help them find healthy ways to caretake (e.g. writing thank-you notes) without overfunctioning
  • Help to create an atmosphere where struggle and mistake-making in service of learning is encouraged

Responses to a caretaking leader:

  • Offer to take on specific tasks with clear limits and regular reports back to them
  • Articulate and hold your own boundaries
  • Model and call attention to your own practice of self-care
  • Be supportive when they do set boundaries or say no to a new project
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.