January 18, 2018

3 things to do if your club officers are fighting

My wife has six cats. Yes, they all belong to her – not me. That does not mean, however, that I do not fulfill my role as a “kitty daddy” and sometimes mediate disputes between them. Cat fights usually happen when one cat looks at another and the second cat does not want to be looked at. This leads to loud shrieking and paw-batting at one another. How do I deal with this? Two loud claps of my hands and then I shout “HEY!” The combatants then run off in different directions. That probably won’t work if it’s two of your club officers.

3 things to do if your club officers are fighting

If it did it’d be great. Two of our officers get into an argument before, during, or after a meeting and we clap our hands and yell, “HEY!” and they would scatter to different parts of campus. That would be cool. But, unfortunately, things are not usually resolved so easily.

So, what do you do when you find two of your officers getting into fights? Here are three suggestions:

1) Get all of your officers to agree, at the beginning of the year if possible, that you will not engage in “drama” in front of the members of the organization. While there may be disagreements in the boardroom, you show a unified team to the members. You can turn people off very quickly if every meeting is disrupted with bickering and sniping between the officers.

2) Talk through the disputes, disagreements, personality conflicts, slights, perceived slights, stresses, etc. to find out the real reason for the problem. Many fights are caused by misunderstandings and miscommunications—where one person thinks something is the case, the other person said something they maybe did not say exactly the way it was reported, or just cases of members engaging in rumor mongering. When I first became a student leader, a higher ranking officer shared with me the idea that if you have a problem with someone and do not take it to that person, then it cannot be very significant. Use this principle to guide your feuding officers.

3) If the situation between the two officers is so bad, but resignation of one or both is not an option, then look for ways to keep the two apart. Seat them at separate ends of the table during meetings, or in different sections of the audience. Make sure they are assigned to tasks during projects and activities that will keep their contact to a minimum. Enlist the help of the other officers and advisors in keeping these two at bay.

Conflict can be the big “ouch” in your organization if you do not approach it directly and unemotionally. To run your club better, don’t choose sides, other than to be on the side of whatever decisions have been made either by the board and/or the group as a whole. In the end, this can be a learning experience for everyone. And if they do well? Do what I do with the cats: reward them with a saucer of milk!


Learn more about this topic from Dave on

“3 things to do if your club officers are fighting”

You can listen to this FREE audio here (7:24)…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Leadership consists of a set of skills, methodologies and ideas that can be taught.

Campus Organization Leadership Training (COLT) by Dave Kelly

Essential and Comprehensive Training for Student Government Associations; Student Leadership Programs; Greek Organizations; Recreational Clubs and Organizations; Academic Clubs and Organizations; Business Clubs and Organizations; International Student Organizations; and every Club, Organization and Student Leader on your Campus! (get more info…)

Series Navigation<< Overcoming challenges to club member involvementMeeting Icebreaker: The Alphabet Game >>
About the Author: Dave "Gonzo" Kelly (64 Posts)

Dave Kelly is the leading authority on student leadership and community service on college campuses today. As a professional trainer, motivator, and servant leader, Dave is an expert on all aspects of running and leading campus organizations and developing the character of a servant leader. Dave has 20+ years training leaders and advisors from student government associations, campus activities boards and campus clubs of every kind on organizational leadership and community service projects. He has trained students and advisors at more than 150 different colleges and universities and is the national coordinator for the APCA Serves! Initiative by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities.

I want to invite Dave Kelly to my campus to speak to our students!

Just give Dave 5 quick pieces of information below and he'll get back to you. Thanks in advance.
NOTE: All form fields are required.
My School
My Name:
Enter the name of the person we should contact at your school.
My Email:
Enter the email address of the contact person on your campus.
My Phone:
Enter the U.S. area code and phone number of the contact person.
Proposed date of my training:
Enter the possible date of your campus event.
Type the text you see into the box so we know you're a person and not a spambot!
Type the text you see into the box so we know you

Share your comments with us...