What ultimately can cause a leader to fail? What causes a leader to make bad decisions, personally and in the mission? What most hinders a leader in their relationships with those they lead and with those they seek to influence? Three aspects come to mind. These three “leadership derailers” can show themselves in very obvious ways or in subtle ways. But over time they will severely negate a leader’s influence.
1. Fear. I have talked before how I think this is one of the greatest threats to any leader’s life. A leader who leads from a base of fear will make many bad decisions. Usually fear is not tied to a leader’s circumstances as much as it is to the threat of their sense of significance. When a leader feels threatened in their leadership they become afraid. But the very presence of fear reveals something about the leader. It reveals that the foundation that they have built their leadership upon is the wrong one. This aspect of a leader’s life speaks more to who a person is as a leader. It speaks to why they lead. What foundation are you building upon?
2. Anger. A leader who regularly exhibits anger does so because of blocked goals. When ever any of us experience a blocked goal there is the opportunity for anger. We want what we want. Often this expresses some aspect of relational failure in the life of a leader. We see a person behind a blocked goal. It could be animosity towards someone on the team or towards someone we seek to influence. But the person may not really be the problem. Over the years I have tried to maintain a perspective that “there are no problem people, only people with problems.” The real question may be whose goals are you seeking to reach? Are other people really the enemy or are they a part of the goal equation for development and blessing?
3. Discouragement. A leader who is discouraged is usually in this state because of the results. It is difficult to throw yourself into something and not see the desired outcome. Results are sometimes deceiving though because they could reflect the wrong measurements or the wrong timing. Results are simply a measurement and are most helpful towards learning, not always toward leadership assessment. But when a leader leads from a base of discouragement it will be very difficult for those around him or her to sense hope, clear direction, and energy toward the vision. Discouragement is as contagious as courage. Do you have the right measurements? Are you learning or are you wrongly internalizing?
The wrong leadership foundation can lead to fear. The wrong goals related to people can lead to anger. The wrong measurements or use of results can lead to discouragement.
For the spiritual or secular leader-only the gospel can cure our brokenness and bent towards functional saviors that cannot provide what we need to lead well.