It always grieves my heart when I read or know of leaders who have disqualified themselves. It not only hurts them but the team they lead, the organizations they serve and the worthy cause and vision they pursue.
There are a lot of things which can sink the ship of a current or aspiring leader.
Here are seven that I’m thinking of—no particular order of importance—just a list.
1. They focus on personal advancement instead of team success.
These leaders make it all about themselves. It becomes not what’s best for the team or organization but what’s best for them—what will help advance them.
2. They shift blame to others instead of absorbing it themselves.
Good leaders share the credit and the blame. Poor leaders usually look for someone to blame when things aren’t going well.
3. They avoid the hard conversations because they might not be liked afterwards.
It’s more important and God-pleasing to be respected and honest than to be popular. Some leaders don’t want to have difficult conversations because they can’t handle people not liking them. It was Eric Geiger who said, “If your goal in life is to keep everybody happy, don’t be a leader, sell ice cream.”
4. They want to be heard instead of wanting to listen.
All good conversations have listening at the center. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. Many leaders are good talkers, but many leaders are not good listeners.
5. They delay making tough decisions under the guise of needing more information or the fear of making a mistake
When making a decision, you will more than likely never have 100% of the information you’d like to have but, in most cases, you’ll have enough. Leadership is about making decisions, some of which are very difficult. The heat is on the leader when an important and difficult decision needs to be made. Leaders make decisions, that’s what leaders do. Harry Truman said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” If you can’t stand the heat, maybe you shouldn’t go into the kitchen in the first place.
6. They act like they know all the answers.
As a leader its not about always having the right answers, but learning how to ask the right questions. Its fun and somewhat fulfilling to think you have all the answers, but it robs the people you lead from learning how to think and figure things out for themselves. It was John Wooden who said, “Its what you learn after you know it all that counts.” As a leader you know a lot less than you think you know. Things are changing at an incredible pace and some of what you think you know is outdated and not helpful anymore. Good leaders are life-long learners. Some leaders are stockpiling all the pat answers to some questions which people are simply not asking anymore. I’m in my 80’s but still reading, studying and learning more each day. The person who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks has never met a truly hungry dog. I’m still hungry and thank the Lord for that.
7. They seldom seek advice or wisdom for fear of appearing incapable or incompetent in their roles and responsibilities.
Believe it or not, you are more of a good leader when you simply say at times, “I don’t know, but let’s find out.” It still amazes me how much I learn from leaders who are much younger than I am. They bring a freshness and insight which I’m too set in my ways to see and appreciate. Saying you don’t know or don’t have experience with something is truly being vulnerable which is highly respected and appreciated by younger people and younger leaders.
Would you really like to grow as a leader? Then do the following: Give this list to those you lead and ask them to evaluate you. Hopefully you’ve created a safe environment and culture where they would feel safe in being honest with you. A simple1-5.
5-this is definitely true about me and 1-this doesn’t describe me at all. After all, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” FDR