As I have contemplated my own personal leadership over this past year one aspect has stood out. It is hard to finish well. Think about it. In almost any arena it is rare to see leaders who end their leadership lives with integrity and vibrancy. I am more convinced than ever that a leader will not finish well without great intentionality. Part of that intentionality is understanding what could keep you from finishing well. Below are six barriers to finishing well as identified by J. Robert Clinton. Clinton is a Senior Professor of Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary and has done extensive research on leadership formation and development. Below the list are two links for further reading from Clinton. I highly recommend him to you.
1. Finances-their use and abuse. Leaders, particularly those who have power positions and make important decisions concerning finances, tend to use practices which may encourage incorrect handling of finances and eventually wrong use. A character trait of greed is often at the heart of this barrier and eventually will cause impropriety with regard to finances.
2. Power-its abuse. With leadership comes power-and the tendency to abuse it. Leaders who rise to the top in a hierarchical system tend to assume privileges with their perceived status. Frequently, these privileges include the abuse of power.
3. Pride-which leads to downfall. Pride which is inappropriate and self centered can lead to a leader’s downfall. There is a dynamic tension that must be maintained. We must have a healthy respect for ourselves and yet we must recognize that we have nothing that was not given us by God. Humility is paramount to finishing well.
4. Sex-illicit relationships. Illicit sexual relationships have been a major cause of downfall for leaders in every culture in every era. We try to gloss over them and we try to pretend that our private lives do not affect our public lives-we are deceived.
5. Family-critical issues. Problems between spouses or between parents and children-or even between siblings-can be a major source of a leader’s downfall. This aspect is often ignored, but always carries greater consequences. You really can’t lead one way at home and another way at work. You are the same person. The same positive and negative traits will show up in all of your relationships.
6. Plateauing. Leaders who are competent tend to plateau. Their very strength becomes a weakness. When leaders plateau they stop developing. This can lead to the slow erosion of leadership vibrancy and competency.
Which of Clinton’s six barriers caught your attention? What are your thoughts?