Leadership Poison

7 Things Christ-following Leaders Don’t Say …

I recently read an article by CarerrBuilder.com posted on CNN.com: Mistakes that can kill your career. It’s a pretty good list for any job, but it made me think about things that kill one’s leadership (i.e. leadership poison). Out of this, came the following list of statements that leaders would (or should) never make …

1. “Other things are more important than spiritual formation!”
Christ-following leaders are followers of Jesus first, then leaders of others. A leader who is not able/willing to follow, will never be a God-honoring leader. Christ-following leaders must have a strong commitment to their own spiritual formation and character development. Nothing is worse than a leader whose gifts outpace his or her character!

2. “I am God’s gift to the world!”
Well, not many people would actually make this statement out loud, but leaders who do not have a commitment to ongoing personal growth say through their lack of commitment to growth that they have arrived, they know everything they need to know, it all depends on them.

3. “I don’t like people!”
Inherently, leaders are in the people business. Leaders who don’t like people tend to drive people while leaders who do like people are more likely to lead them and to journey with them. Poor relational skills, the inability to communicate well with others (or worse, the mistreatment of people), is a tremendous limit on one’s leadership. And, since loving God/loving people is the “great commandment,” it seems to me that Christ-following leaders ought to actually like people.

4. “I want everybody to like me!”
While we all want to be well-liked, leaders know that they are not going to please everyone (it’s not even a goal, in fact). Leaders who want to make everyone happy are driven by fear; they are afraid that they will make someone unhappy and stir up conflict so they do everything they can to please people. It’s no way to lead! Fear keeps leaders from taking risks and doing the right things. Leaders must be courageous.

5. “Vision? What’s a vision?”
Leaders, by definition, are leading people toward a particular destination, otherwise they’re just taking a walk. Leaders are driven by vision, and they know (or must learn) how to communicate vision in ways that inspire and motivate people to follow. A mistake many leaders make, however, is simply adopting someone else’s vision rather than doing the hard work of cultivating and searching for their own God-given vision.

6. “I can do it alone!”
Jesus certainly never modeled this attitude. He spent his entire ministry developing other leaders. Because their vision is so big, leaders develop other leaders to help with the huge task of leading.

7. “The church will love my new idea!”
Okay, we probably do say this statement all too often, but only because we fail understand the culture of the organization we’re leading. All organizations have a tendency to move toward and maintain the status quo. Therefore, it’s more likely that the church/organization will NOT like the leader’s new idea without proper cultivation. Leaders must be cultivators!

What do you think? Are there other statements you think leaders would/should never make?

3 thoughts on “Leadership Poison”

  1. “If I don’t do it, nobody else will.”
    It is easy to fall into the “martyr syndrome” with this often said statement. Building a trustworthy and capable team is essential to good and successful leadership.


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