Five Professional Types That Can Derail Your Team


You don’t wan to mess with these guys, much less have them on your staff. If any of these professional types finds his way into your team, make sure you deal with them swiftly and remove them from power as soon as possible. In my experience, the longer they stay, the faster your business or ministry will be derailed. It’s not a matter of if, but of when.

Deceptive professional

Old School Board. No these are not school board members who are old, but old board members who have lost touch with anything current. “Social media? That’s just an0ther fad.” I have seen more dynamic ideas die during ministry presentations due to board members’ inabilities to grasp the importance and significance of communicating with digital natives. If your board has more people in their 70s and 80s than people in their 30s and 40s you might be in trouble, serious trouble.

IT Terrorist. This is the guy who holds all good ideas hostage on the fear of “It’s a security issue why we cannot do that.” or “We would have to revamp all of our systems to be able to do that.” Those words send fear and trepidation down the spines of ministry leaders as well as CEOs everywhere. I find that often they either don’t know what they are talking about or if they do, they don’t want to go through the hassle of changing. And in either case, the organization loses.

Insecure Leader. No great idea can come from any other person but himself. The insecure leader will hire poorly because he is threatened by talent. And if he makes a mistakes and manages to bring someone on board who’s smarter and better than he, he will marginalized the poor guy until he’s ready to quit. If you have an insecure leader working for you, watch closely his direct reports and watch the talented ones leave.

Incompetent saboteur. He’s not incompetent at sabotaging ideas. He’s just incompetent period, and therefore, will sabotage any idea that threatens his job. His thinking is more like “Why try and fail, if I can stop the idea from even getting off the ground!” He’s always the guy giving you all the reasons your next idea will not work. Unfortunately, the savvy saboteur will agree with you in a meeting and undermine your efforts later on.

Ego maniac.“If it’s not about me, I don’t want to have anything to do with it.” That’s the egomaniac’s modus operandi. His personal agenda trumps the win for the company and his team. While he might be a superstar, his self-interest will end up doing more damage to your team than good.

What other professional type would you include in this list?

  • The Lazy Leader – shows up but doesn’t contribute, doesn’t help, doesn’t do his/her duties. He is just in it for a resume builder, not out of passion for the cause.

  • PastorToddMurphy

    Great Post Maurilio. I have seen these types a lot as a church planter, especially numbers 3 & 5. Often they have not gotten their Quan at the last Church, and so they go seeking out small Church plants to “get in on the ground floor” so they can be a “leader” in the Church. I have found that insecurity and ego go hand in hand and are directly proportional. The more insecure someone is, the more narcissistic and egocentric they will be in the their leadership capacities, thus sabotaging the whole. Don’t know if you have ever read “A Failure of Nerve” by Edwin D. Freidman. If not, you would love it.

  • Yep, well said, and most pastors like myself inherit these types. We have little say! They are entrenched, and that’s the problem!

    • That’s true of many not for profits I work with. Once you identify those who need to move, or be moved, then you can put a plan in place to get to the point they are no longer a block and you can move forward.

  • Jen B

    This sounds exactly like our elder board at church. Good thing we are moving!

    • Well if you can’t replace them, then leave. Not a bad strategy.

  • Thanks for this list. I appreciate the warnings. I am really interested in your first type. I’m six months into my first context with a church board.

    I guess I’m lucky. Some of our more “seasoned” board members think younger than our “younger” board members. Just because one is old, doesn’t mean one is ‘ole school.’ I can see how we may be an exception to the rule. Cheers.

  • Brilliant post; one of the most striking things is the cloak or disguise they wear… thanks for sharing Maurilio!

  • Andrew Haas

    Delegation Impaired (possible flavor of ego maniac)
    The good-hearted ones take on too much and burn out. Then you get Glory Hounds who claim 50 tasks but at crunch time throw up their hands declaring they have too much to handle. The rest of the team is left scrambling to salvage tasks that they should have been empowered to handle in the first place.

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  • Some IT Guy

    Your ‘IT Terrorist’ is making a completely valid statement. The issue typically is not that IT doesn’t want to change. We LOVE new toys. Often people propose things which seem great but require massive infrastructure changes that cost A LOT of money. If the proposer doesn’t have the will or the juice to get that line item budget approved, he or she is wasting IT’s time. That said, a more appropriate response might be “That’s a great idea! I could give you some ball park figures if you’d like to pitch them to xxxxx.”

  • Jim McMillian

    What happens when the head leader is one of these types? Working with them is tough.

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