When the boss you love resigns, and you must keep it together. An honest account.
I was on summer holiday when I received a phone call from Liam our Executive Director. He knows I’m on holiday and is very respectful of these types of boundaries so it must be important. I pick up and after several pleasantries he drops a bomb… “I’ve been offered a role as CEO of Arrow Global and I’ve decided to take it, I’m leaving Arrow Australia.”
My response is easy – “That’s amazing Liam, congratulations, that is such a great move for you and for Global and I’m so certain that God is in this and moving you to a place where you can have a greater impact for the Kingdom and be a blessing to so many more leaders all around the world. I know this must have been difficult but know that I love you and support you and am praying for you in the transition.” I hung up the phone, burst into tears and yelled out to my husband that I was not returning to work and resigning from my role.
After telling my husband why I had claimed, seemingly out of nowhere, that I was quitting he left me alone to process for a little bit (wise man). As I sat on the balcony of our holiday unit, watching surfers ride the waves at Moffatt beach I started to consider how this might impact me but more importantly how it was going to impact Arrow Australia.
The truth is I was feeling two very real things at once and as the news began to spread through the team as Liam called person after person, my phone started to buzz with text messages and the like that were screaming a very similar sentiment. This is great for Arrow Global, we’re so happy for Liam, but it kind of sucks for us.
There’s a challenge in holding those two things at the same time isn’t there?
On the one hand, I am very happy for Liam and think this is a great move for him and an excellent appointment by Arrow Global but on the other it means that after a number of years of uncertainty, as we walked through the Pandemic, we are now entering another one. Liam transitioning out of the role is hard enough but the questions are immediately buzzing around the team – who will apply? Who do we want? What are they going to change? How is it going to impact our programs, our team, our strategy, our vision, our board, our future, ourselves.
It’s really hard.
So, as I sat in that moment I looked to the Lord and I asked him what I should do. He gave me, I believe, two things that I was uniquely positioned to provide Arrow Australia in the transition we are walking into in 2023.
I am uniquely positioned because I act as the 2IC in many ways and in part that’s why I’m writing this blog. Firstly, to be open and honest about a tricky season we are in as a team. Secondarily, so that, if you are reading this and find yourself in a similar position in your team and perhaps even a similar season you might be inspired to respond in the way the Lord led me to.
As we walk into this season of transition, I have committed to two things.
Helping the boss finish well.
I am committed to helping Liam finish well. He has been, and is an integral part of the health of our team and organisation. I love him, he is an amazing boss, a great leader, a wonderful pastor, and I’m very sad to see him leave but it’s these reasons also I am committed to helping him do that in a healthy way.
This began with our first conversation of the year where I simply asked him, “Liam, what can I do to help you finish well?” He had some immediate tasks to give me to lighten the load he was carrying, which I took on and he is now thinking about this question seriously as he considers what it looks like to finish his time and season with Arrow Australia.
I also made this decision public. I told the team that I was committed to helping Liam finish well. I thought it was important in our moment of uncertainty and disappointment to remind the team that this is difficult for Liam as well (he will write about this in our next blog coming soon…) and that in our own management of our feelings we needed to also consider how we are providing support, love and respect to Liam as he transitions out.
This is only just getting under way, and I am still committed to seeing Liam finish well but that doesn’t mean too much just yet as we’ve only just started the transition process – ask me in a few months how this has gone and how Liam and I worked this out together.
Supporting the team
I am committed to supporting the team. We have a fairly flat structure at Arrow Australia with the staff team reporting to Liam, Kylie or myself. With the leader in charge on his way out it, it’s difficult and awkward at times to talk to Liam in the way we have in the past.
I have offered to be available to the team at any point to talk through, listen and help in any way I can to move forward. This doesn’t necessarily mean I can make big decisions, but we can work out together how we move forward through the awkwardness and unknown of our beloved Executive Director leaving us.
I have also committed to praying every day for the team in this season. Regardless of where you find yourself on the charismatic spectrum you have to know as well as I do that the enemy loves a moment of vulnerability like this to get his slimy paws on us and make an impact. So I’m praying rather bluntly against spiritual attack for the team. I’m praying for the team’s work and passion to thrive and flourish in this season and that they would have space and time to process what they need to and feel how they need to so they can transition from one Executive Director to the next.
Through all of this I want to act with integrity. A favourite Arrow book, “Integrity” by Henry Cloud, reshapes our understanding of integrity to be, “the courage to meet the demands of reality.” My prayer for the team is that we would all have what is required to meet the demands of the transition that is before us.
This is hard. I don’t like it. I just want things to stay the same.
However, I find myself constantly meeting the realisation and saying out loud that none of this, the ministry, the leadership, the work we do at Arrow Australia belongs to us – it all belongs to God. If that’s true then he has got this, he is at work and has a plan to see His will be done and so I’m submitting to that and committing to help Liam finish well and the team make it through in the best way possible.
Please pray for us, thereby helping us walk through this tricky situation. We are experiencing dual, almost opposite, feelings… “Congratulations Liam” and “but I kind of hate you for leaving us.”
It doesn’t make sense but it’s true.
Cath joined Arrow Leadership in 2017 as the Emerging Leaders Program Director. She began pastoral ministry at Gateway Baptist Church as the Children’s Pastor in 2009 and as Generations Pastor. Cath is passionate about seeing leaders developed and be given the opportunities to achieve the potential that God has placed within them. Cath is married to Michael, who is a doctor and together they are parents to Henry and Oliver.