Negativity From Past Leadership


Hi, everybody. I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. Here’s this week’s question.

“There are past leaders that are negative, even destructive in their communication and gossip. I would go so far as to say they are sabotaging the future and putting the well-being of the organization at risk. They, of course, think they’re being helpful, but that is not the case, I assure you. What suggestions do you have for stopping the negativity while respecting their past contributions?”

Excuse me, I need some Fiji. Well, if you’re a senior leader of that organization, you better sit down and have a conversation with them, because here’s the deal. Who do past leaders think they are, if this is true, and they’re speaking negatively, and they’re gossiping, and they’re not telling the truth, it behooves you, it falls to you, it is as a requirement.

I am a senior leader of a nonprofit organization, and I will tell you this, that if there are negative gossiping people, I’m going to send an email and pick up the phone, and have a conversation. There is no room for sabotage and negativity in any organization. I don’t care if they were the President of the United States, I don’t care if they’re the ruler of the universe, you don’t get to undermine.

What often happens in organizations, and it isn’t just nonprofits, but past leaders of organizations have lost their moment in the sun, so they feel like they have to keep churning and churning and spewing negativity. You must, as the senior leader of that organization, have a conversation, don’t be confrontational. I want you to call them, have a conversation, say, “Look, it’s come to my attention that you’re upset about things and that you’re saying things about the business, and I’d like us to talk about it and see how we can come together. If we can’t be positive together, how can we be silent about it.”

It is necessary because you are swimming upstream, particularly if these people have a voice and particularly if these people have a way to get to large constituents of this organization. I don’t know what kind of nonprofit you’re a leader in, but I will tell you that this happens a lot in organizations, volunteer organizations where volunteer leaders think that they know better, particularly past ones.

I will tell you, I would go so far as to say that if they cannot stop gossiping and undermining the organization, maybe it’s time for them not to be a part of that organization anymore. Nonprofits are having hard enough times surviving these days. They’re having a hard enough time getting donors, hard enough time being viable. You cannot afford that deadweight. Have the conversation, talk to your executive committee, unless you are a volunteer leader, so you’re not staff. We got to put a stop to it. I would put a campaign, maybe a positive campaign, about the positive things that are going on in the business.

I hope that’s helpful.

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