Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ways that otherwise good leaders often sabotage their leadership

It is very possible to have significant leadership skills and still undermine one's own leadership. And this is not only a risk for young leaders for often for leaders that have seen significant success. 

Hubris. This should be obvious but it isn't always! Success breeds confidence and that confidence can cause us to overestimate our wisdom and underestimate our need for counsel. This can creep up on us over time without our realizing it until we are no longer open to the input of others which eventually comes back to bite us.

Schedule. Good leaders are in demand. That demand can cause us to say yes too often and no too seldom. Busyness wears us down, tires our bodies and minds, robs us of think time and even God. Schedule erosion eventually catches up to us in negative ways.

Entitlement. Successful leaders can start to believe that the rules don't apply to them as they apply to others. One of the ways this often plays out is in behaviors that they would not allow others to exhibit but which they feel they can. This may be carelessness in the treatment of others in words or attitudes or simply taking staff for granted. Because they have positional authority they often get away with behaviors that they shouldn't but by doing so they lose the respect of their staff.

Laziness. Many leaders who saw success in one period of life lose their edge in another because they no longer feel the need to stay sharp, learn new skills, and understand the changing environment around them. This can be the result of out of control schedules or hubris but whenever we stop being intentional in our own development we begin to lose our ability to lead well.

Health. This is one I understand and I have had to become deeply intentional about addressing my own health issues. When we don't those issues often compromise our energy and our ability to carry out our leadership roles. In the second half of life, this is one that leaders must become more intentional about if they are going to go the distance.

Transformation. It is what God wants to do in our hearts, thinking, priorities (lifestyle) and relationships and it is a life long process. I love the comment my brother made at my father's funeral service. "He was not a perfect man but he kept getting better." Cooperating with the Holy Spirit to become everything God made us to be and to become more and more like Jesus is one of prime responsibilities of leaders who model transformation for others. When we lose our intentionality here others notice and it sabotages our leadership.

Clarity. Lack of personal and leadership clarity leaves both us and our staff without focus. No matter how brilliant one is, a lack of focus creates confusion for those one leads and dissipates the energy that one expends. Life should be journey toward ever greater clarity about what God wants us to do (and alternatively not do), what our priorities should be (and there should be only a few) and what the target is for our work (without which our staff will lack direction). 

Discipline. No amount of brilliance makes up for a lack of discipline in our lives. Our personal discipline is a reflection of our understanding of God's call on our lives and our commitment to steward the gifts He has given for maximum impact. Lack of discipline communicates a carelessness about that stewardship. 

Jesus. Life is not about us but about Him. It is easy to forget that and to focus on our things rather than His things. Whenever we take our eyes off of Him we start to sink as Peter did when He left the boat to be with Him. To the extent that we lose that focus we hurt our leadership - and ourselves.

What sabotages your leadership? It can be one of these or it can be other things. Being sensitive to whatever it is will allow us to go the distance.

Posted from Rockford, Il

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