This paper aims to explore the experiences of church ministers who played the role of transitional leaders in congregational situations involving conflict.
Grounded theory was chosen as a suitable approach to investigate phenomena that occasionally penetrate religious publications and even less frequently scholarly management journals. Accordingly, in-depth interviews were conducted with six church ministers who had been transitional leaders in one Christian denomination in New Zealand.
Participants indicated that the drivers of transitional ministry were conflict, dysfunction and loss of direction; the goals were to heal the damage caused by conflict and restore functionality and well-being; the process, underpinned by a leadership philosophy of affirmation, trust-building, engagement and communication, involved working with church members to instil hope, establish operational structures, identify and resolve dysfunction, envision a future and ultimately recruit a permanent minister.
The limitations of a small sample size in one Christian denomination could be addressed by using wider samples in other contexts. It is suggested that insights into transitional leadership after conflict will be of interest to researchers as well as practitioners in other religious organizations, the wider non-profit sector and the private sector. Future research into the impact of transitional leadership, against a background of conflict and organizational change, will add to this empirical foundation.
The model of transitional ministry is a unique contribution to religious literature and practice. It also offers insight into how other types of organization could deal with the exit of its permanent leader, in circumstances of conflict, and manage the transition phase of a temporary replacement, so that the organization returns to a state of well-being with a renewed sense of purpose.
Pratt, T.J., Smollan, R.K. and Pio, E. (2019), "Transitional leadership to resolve conflict, facilitate change and restore wellbeing", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 1053-1072. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOA-05-2018-1419
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