Leadership Failures (An Argument from Yesterday)

It’s interesting the conversations a blog post generates. Some people loved yesterday’s post about Getting Undeserved Credit.  Others wanted to argue.  Next time they should do it in the comments section so we could all enjoy the conversation!

For the record , no one was arguing with the fact that we should praise God for all good things or about making sure we give credit where it is due.  The main objection was that I was letting failing leaders off the hook when I implied we shouldn’t assign blame too quickly and that good leadership and fruitfulness don’t always correlate directly.

I get that.  I do.  Some people (out of both genuine kindness and accountability-avoidance) want to prop up poor leadership.  They want to say the leader doesn’t bear responsibility for the health and direction and success (however you measure it) of their tribe.  That, of course, is ludicrous.  If you are the leader, you better own every one of those things.  It is why…(drum roll)…you are the LEADER!

I guess I just want to take a fair approach to it.  And have some grace.  All circumstances, history, people, and challenges are not equal.  I was set up for “success” at Suncrest by the foundation laid, mentoring I received, and culture established.   It would be silly to demand the same outcomes from a different set of circumstances.  Sometimes patience is called for.

And sometimes impatience is called for.  If you believe in your mission at all, it can’t just be OK to see your tribe under-achieve. I’ve seen some (probably can’t call them leaders) who didn’t get that.  Their common attributes?  They have excuses, not reasons.  The deflect responsibility instead of owning it.  And they demand grace for falling short.  Grace is beautiful when it is given, but ugly when it is demanded.

You may have just read that last paragraph and already disagree, beginning to think of reasons why I’m wrong.  You aren’t evil. You probably just aren’t a leader.

So…for all my “Type A” Leader Friends, I hope that is satisfying.  🙂  Even if it isn’t, it’s what I believe. I’ll leave this discussion here with a great quote about leadership, credit, and blame someone passed on to me.

A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit. -Arnold Henry Glasow

~ by Greg Lee on November 12, 2010.

7 Responses to “Leadership Failures (An Argument from Yesterday)”

  1. Loved the post from yesterday but todays is even better.

  2. I can see why people disagreed with the last post, though I can also see your point. My reaction was in agreement, and I think this clarifies the not so agreed upon statement. I haven’t had too much experience in leadership, but enough so where I can look back and get a general idea of what you are trying to say. Thanks for your candidness in this, it really shows your heart.

  3. Super Bowl coach and respected Christian witness Tony Dungy of the Indianapolis Colts has left a mark on America in terms of exemplary leadership. He doesn’t curse, sarcastically chew out players, or rant on the sidelines. He believes he can get his team to compete by calmly providing direction and treating players with respect. Interestingly, this demeanor allegedly prevented him from securing a head-coaching job for many years.

    We need more Tony Dungys, who, in the process of trying to perfect their own lives, set examples for others.
    In the hectic, demanding world of new church development, planting leaders often don’t know either what is going on or refuse to do anything about subpar efforts by staff or volunteer ministry leaders. Point leaders who fail to step in when people need them most are culpable. It may be time, as both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal recently announced, for a new type of leader who has cast aside the largesse of ego and exercises power in ways that are more humane. The less invasive leadership style symbolized by the shepherd’s staff reminds me of a quote attributed to Margaret Thatcher: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

    Leaders exhibit many qualities besides kindness. It is, for example, possible to be hard-nosed and kind, to be cantankerous and kind, to be analytical and kind, or to be gregarious and kind. Kindness comes packaged with many other traits. Thus, a leader’s own unique qualities give him or her a distinctive style. I believe that kindness is part of a good leader’s constitution and that others are able to brush aside some of the other qualities that leaders possess in order to see the compassionate center. Therefore, many different types of people are kind. The search for the perfect leadership personality is terribly misguided and ultimately fails to explain what leaders really do and what makes them effective.

    By kind, I do not mean sucker or pushover. Nor do I imply a warmly permissive leader whose staff team runs wild. Kindness does not preclude a full range of expression, including, at times, displeasure, nor should it be interpreted as excessive amicability. The goal of spiritual leadership should not be to get results to please the management team or financial supporters, but to increase the effectiveness of the ministry team over time using agreeable means.

    So even though kindness does not appear in leadership books that are devoured by new church planters, I contend based on personal experience as a planter and planter coach that leading with kindness is key.

  4. Love the quote you ended on…says it beautifully!

  5. Greg,

    It actually occurred to me what you might be thinking when your name was thrown down from the stage in coonection to the class about learning to read the Bible. That’s the way it is, right? The leader is associated with everything that goes on in the organization, regardless of their level of direct involvement.

    I think this kind of thing jusr reinforces why it is important for Suncrest to stay so mission focused, and 4C focused. like we read about in Simple Church. Charlie was up there giving credit to something really good, and mission aligned, that’s why it came about to begin with and why it was well worth providing.

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