It is very easy to assume that all is well in our ministries, on our boards or with our ministry teams whether or not it is actually true. One of the deficits of ministry leaders is that we are often not very skilled at critical analysis and don't take the time to evaluate deeply our actual health from what we wish that health to be. We tend to look at our ministries through rose colored glasses, assume the best and do not have mechanisms to verify the actual situation.
In my work with churches, for instance, boards often assume that all is well with the staff until one day they get a wake up call and realize that there are all kinds of dysfunction on staff due to poor leadership of their senior pastor in that arena and they have a major problem on their hands. Their assumptions were wrong and they had not done due diligence to monitor what was compared to what they assumed it to be. In most of these cases the problems had been brewing for years and it was still not identified and dealt with.
The same is true for boards themselves where we assume all is well and one day realize that we have not been guarding the unity of the board and have been living with unhealthy relationships and practices and there is now division. It did not happen overnight. We were simply blind to it.
I could give many other examples but it comes down to this. Are we paying attention to the various aspects of our ministry and asking the hard questions as to what is really happening or are we assuming the best and glossing over the problems. Critical analysis is not always easy, it can be threatening, and it takes time but it is the only way to ensure ongoing health and effectiveness.
For boards and senior leaders: Don't just take everyone's word that all is well. Ask the hard questions and find ways to verify. This is one of our jobs. We celebrate success and progress but we are also always alert to what is "under the hood" and where the issues are that need to be addressed. It is learning to distinguish between what really is and what we wish them to be.