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I recently spent a fitful night unable to sleep because of the strong disagreement I knew we would be facing at the next day's board meeting. A peacemaker by nature, I dread situations of conflict. Like many of us in ministry, I'm into conciliation, not confrontation. Why can't we all just get along? Let's find the win/win. Surely we can work something out so we can all be unified.

This wasn't a case of misunderstanding. This was a case of board members clearly understanding the issues, but disagreeing on how to proceed.

Sure enough, the next morning saw a sharply divided board. Arguments were made, statements were countered. No one was attacked personally, but personal values and sensitivities clearly differed. When it came time to make a decision, the vote showed a serious division of the house.

I drove home somewhat discouraged — until I read the article in the September 2002 Harvard Business Review on "What Makes a Great Board Great." Suddenly the situation was seen in an entirely ...

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