3 Ways a Leader Kills a Team

My friend, Brian Ross (Assistant Professor of Pastor Ministries at Fresno Pacific University), made a recent statement Leadershipthat the gift of leadership is innate and not learned. I agree. Great leaders are born with that natural ability to lead well. And even they must improve in their ability.

However, I believe some men and women can learn the skills of leadership, operate within their niche, and become great leaders. To show this, I’m thinking of ways I’ve seen and read about how leaders have damaged their institutions.

Below are 3 simple ways to kill a team. If you want to be a great leader, you must avoid these characteristics and replace them with new ones.

Killer #1: The Cattle Drive

Some leaders drive. They set out the vision, get behind their people, and push and push and push. This works well if you’re a cowboy and your “people” wear bells around their necks. When one gets out of line, he can expect the whip to crack by his ear, and he fearfully corrects his processes. Since there is no room for failure, fear is the motivation that keeps the people going. But fear can only go so far. Soon the herd falls apart. Why? Because we’re not cattle.

This style of leadership fails because it does not allow failure. And failure is one of the highest forms of becoming great, if we can learn well from it.

“Visionary companies make some of their best moves by experimentation, trial and error, opportunism, and—quite literally—accident. What looks in retrospect like brilliant foresight and preplanning was often the result of “Let’s just try a lot of stuff and keep what works.” ― James C. Collins, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Killer #2: Blind Leading the Blind

Others also lead from behind but with no whip. They aren’t quite sure where to go, so they just follow the majority. It keeps the majority mostly happy anyway, although the fringe people usually get knocked off the wagon on the curves. And the wagons always end up going in circles, thus never making any progress. Some quit moving altogether. Sadly this becomes their norm. They justify their lack of vision with weak arguments until they die in the desert.

“To grasp and hold a vision, that is the very essence of successful leadership—not only on the movie set where I learned it, but everywhere.” — Ronald Reagan

Killer #3: Who’s Your Daddy? Seriously?

Some leaders are in front, waving the flag toward success. He’s given a vision and shouts, “This way, my people!” Yet the people aren’t quite sure who this man is. He’s never taken the time to get to know them. So why would they follow an unknown leader? Would he care for them if one falls? Will he desert them when danger comes? In fact, it’s time to go now, and we’re not sure where he is.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” — Jesus, John 10:27 (NIV)

Characteristics of Great Leadership

Great leadership involves:
– humility
– leads by example
– allows freedom to fail without the whip
– sacrifices for the people underneath
– keeps the vision in front
– inspires the people to be their greatest, and not just for the institution
– admits failure
– congratulates success
– is in the lives of the people

I think a man or woman can be a leader without the innate abilities. But in any case, the greatest leaders work tirelessly and prayerfully on those characteristics that inspire people to follow.

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