7 Reasons why leaders fail

failure comes in many forms

failure comes in many forms

Photo by greekadman

Many leaders fail every day. They fail for lots of reasons. But there are seven key reasons that you should know to help you avoid failing as a leader.

1. They Lose sight of their vision – when a leader stops setting goals and forgets their vision they will soon fail. They fail simply because they have no objective, no reason for leading. Every leader must have a reason for leading. As soon as the objective is accomplished, or the leader stops making goals, the leader will be unnecessary. So always be aiming for a goal, and always have a vision of what you want to do in the future and where you are leading.

2. They fail to communicate their vision and goals to others – as important as it is to have a vision, it is also important to effectively communicate that vision with those under you. If a leader stops communicating, their followers will become disconnected and will soon quit following. Always be clear and communicate often what your goals are with those under you. Make sure they understand what you are saying and what you want from them. Clarify anything that might be unclear, go above and beyond to ensure you are effectively communicating.

3. They try to work on their weaknesses more than their strengths – we were each created with certain strengths and weaknesses. When a leader starts to try to do things they aren’t good at, they will fail. A leader must recognize their strengths and weaknesses, and then use their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. There will be times when you might have to do something that is not a strength.  That is fine, you just do not want the bulk of your life or work to be focused on areas that you are weak in.

4. They have weak team members around them – the people a leader brings around them will have a great impact on the effectiveness of that leader. Many good leaders have failed simply because they gathered incompetent team members around them. To avoid this, carefully evaluate each person you hire or bring in to work with. Be sure that they are a good team member. And, of course, make sure you set the example by always learning and always increasing your abilities and effectiveness.  Hire slow and fire fast.  You do not want to make a bad hiring decision so take it slow. Once you realize that you need to let a member of the team go make sure you make it happen fast.  If you are have worked with a person and tried to find areas of strength where they could add to the team and that still does work make the firing decision quickly.

5. They become prideful or headstrong – when a leader stops taking suggesting, stops listening to council, and starts doing everything on their own, it is only a matter of time before they make a bad choice and ruin themselves. Every leader needs to take advice from others; every leader needs people around them to give council and help. Pride is often a key reason behind ignoring others advice. When you become prideful, you think you are better and smarter than everyone else. Do not go down this path, instead, have a good mentor or friend who can keep you humble and on track.

6. They do too much – a leader must know what they can handle and what they need to pass on to others. When a leader takes on every task, they become busy and ineffective at accomplishing any task well. They do a lot of work, but it is all poor quality. Eventually, a leader heading down this path will become tired, stressed, and burned out. To steer clear of this, carefully look at every task you accept. Ask yourself if you can devote the necessary time to do a good job. if you can not then delegate or just say no. it is better to be focused and accomplish a few tasks very well then to do a lot of jobs poorly.

7. They do not keep their relationship with God fresh – if a leader stops relying on God, stops connecting to God, they will run into difficult times and have nothing to turn to, no one to help them. If you are experiencing tough times in your relationship with God continue to pursue his heart.  Many times leaders do not want to draw near to God unless they feel like it.  Draw near to God and the feelings will follow.  Just this morning I was reading 2 Chronicles 312:31b  ”God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.”  As people grow in their relationship with God it seems that everyone goes through a season where things are not as easy, fun or fruitful.  Usually these times are tests to see if the leader will renew his hunger and thirst for the Lord.  Let your dry time be a stepping stone to a fresh experience of your relationship with God.

If you have any other thoughts on why leaders fail please feel free to leave a comment.

Subscribe Now

And Receive our 3 Most Requested Resources Absolutely Free!

Email

Leadership and Humility

Humility and Leadership rarely are associated together but a leader must learn to be humble

Humility and Leadership rarely are associated together but a leader must learn to be humble

photo by BUR?BLUE

When you do a word association with humility, leadership probably does not pop into your head. A leader should be great, glorious, and confident right? If their confidence leads them to be prideful well then so be it.  It’s probably OK for someone to be a little prideful if they have earned the right to be prideful.   Well not according to Jesus and many others in recent history who have studied truly great leaders.

Take a look at the example Jesus left for us at the last supper. On the night before he was crucified, Jesus did something extraordinary; He got up, got a towel and water, and began to wash the feet of each of His followers. In that time only a servant, and the humblest of servants at that, washed people’s feet. Yet Jesus did this to show us what a leader should really look like. He showed us that a leader needs to be thinking and serving those who follow them. They need to put their follower’s needs ahead of their own. A leader has incredible responsibility, and one of them is to make sure that the needs of those entrusted to him or her are taken care of.

When a leader is humble and takes time to look after the needs of those following them, then the followers will be more willing and able to follow and do whatever needs to be done to accomplish the goal at hand.

Especially today, humility is not a popular trait.  Somehow William Bennet left it out of his best seller The Book of Virtues.  Maybe there were not enough stories of a humble protagonist, or maybe humility does not sell.  :-)   If a leader does not continue to pursue humility it is likely they will soon become prideful and fall into traps caused by the sin of pride.  A humble leader accepts the council of others and grows from it.

I once heard the phrase that humility is not thinking less of yourself it is not thinking of yourself at all.  President’s Lincoln and Reagan both modeled this characteristic of humility well.  Nancy Reagan said of President Reagan that he had no ego.  He was not concerned about himself.  Though many great leaders are attributed with the quote “You can get a lot done if you don’t care who gets the credit.”  It was certainly an opinion that Reagan voiced often and probably helped to keep him humble as he made his way up the ladder of success.

If you want to pursue humility it helps to keep your focus on Christ who was humble despite being God.  It helps to give away all the credit you can.  It also helps to receive encouragement and praise with a simple “Thank You.” or “Praise God.”  A false humility that says, “Oh it was nothing.”  Simply causes the giver of the praise to have to offer more or justify their original statement, whereas a thank you or focus on God causes the attention to go back to that person or to God.

Integrity: A Leader’s Most Important Quality

Honesty and Integrity really are the best policies

Honesty and Integrity really are the best policies

Photo by tricky ™

In a recent survey I read, businessmen were asked what they thought was the most important quality of a leader. The overwhelming response was integrity and honesty. We hear about so many business leaders and even Christian leaders who have shown by their poor choices that they have lost their integrity. It would seem that the idea of integrity and honesty had been lost, but as it turns out, it is extremely valued maybe even more so as it seems to be more rare these days.

When a leader has integrity, it means that they set a good example in all aspects of their life. Whether they are at work, home, on vacation, or even alone, they live and act honestly and responsibly. They set an example for others to follow without even trying to, and people will follow.

The good news about integrity, or maybe the bad news for some, is that it is something you can work at and become better at exemplifying and thus, also lose if you stop trying.  It has been said that it is something that takes a life time to build and can be lost in an instant.

You gain integrity through a lifelong process of being honest in every aspect of your life. Yet to do this on our own would be impossible, it takes God’s transforming power to help mold you into a more Christ-like person.

God wants you to have integrity and to live an honest life in everything you do.

This reminds me of a story my dad told me about a coworker of his who was extremely honest. This coworker worked for the US Government and had a desk and office with office supplies like pens and paper available for his use. This man was so honest that he actually had a separate pen for taking personal, non-government notes. So whenever he wanted to write something down that was not related to his work, he would use his own pen.

Now this might be a little extreme, but this does show this man’s passion and integrity. He wanted to make sure that he did nothing even remotely questionable, such as using government ink for personal purposes.

So are you honest in every aspect of your life? Are you willing to let God help you become a man or woman of integrity and honesty? Are there areas in your life right now where you have been lacking integrity.  If there is something nagging against your conscience, do not sweep the thought away but take some time to think about it, talk to a friend who will be upfront with you or bring the issue to God.

Right Priorities, Make Sure Yours are Aligned with God’s

A Change in your Leadership Priorities is sometimes needed

A Change in your Leadership Priorities is sometimes needed

Photo by hockadilly

Priorities are essential for a leader because he or she must be able to focus on a few key areas that are most important to accomplishing the vision or goal of the organization. When a leader has priorities, they are able to determine what tasks they should be doing, and what tasks they should pass on to others. Priorities also help those serving under the leader to see what the goals for the organization are and how they are getting accomplished.

If you have not set any priorities, you may become distracted and lose focus on your vision. Organizations that lose track of their vision become misguided and unproductive. To avoid this, take the time to set a few priorities.  Priorities will help guide you and help to ensure you are working on the things that important and not just the things that are urgent or bouncing from one idea to the next without ever really accomplishing anything of last value.

When you have your God given vision you can set a few priorities that will help you reach that vision.  Your vision will help guide the decision that you make.  Take your priorities and just focus on two or at the most three.  If you have more than three priorities you do not have priorities because everything will start to compete for focus.  For each of your top priorities list out the tasks that you can do that will help those priorities come to life.

Now that you have a few priorities in your life, it is time to see if they match up with God’s priorities. Yes, God wants your priorities to be aligned with His. If they are not, you will probably struggle and have a tough time succeeding because your desires will be tugging against your conscience and the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life.  .

The good news is that God wants your priorities to be the same as His. And he has outlined His priorities in the Bible. Now that you have your priorities, pray about them and see what God has to say about them. It might be that they are what he wants you to do, or it might be that they are not. Or possible, he might want you to wait for a little while.

If you feel like you are having a difficult time discerning what priorities God wants you to focus on, do not hesitate to seek the council of a pastor, friend, or mentor. Ask their advice, and ask them to pray with you.

Your priorities have a large impact on the direction of your life, so if they are not aligned with God, then you will not be aligned with God either.

So when you are making priorities in your life, remember this important key: make God’s priorities, a priority in your life.

Effective Leaders Remain Accountable

A leader must remain accountable in order to stay on top of being a leader, and follower of Christ.

A leader must remain accountable in order to stay on top of being a leader, and follower of Christ.

Photo by alles-schlumpf

When you think of accountability, you often think of a leader keeping others accountable. That’s one of their roles as a leader right? Well this is true, but a leader also has the responsibility to keep him or herself accountable.

There are two areas a leader needs to remain accountable in: first, they should hold themselves to the same standards as everyone under them: and second, they should recognize their own need to have someone who keeps them on track and accountable for their actions.

As a leader, whenever you set rules or regulations, you must be the first to follow them. It both sets an example for others to follow, and shows that you are really serious about the guidelines that you have set.

I can think of one situation I was in where a leader said one thing, but did another.  I was volunteering for a camp and one of the leaders for the camp told me, and a group of other guys, that we could only have one snack per day. Now, there was an entire room that had tables covered with snacks that had been donated for volunteers, yet for whatever reason, we were not supposed to have more than one a day. This would have been annoying, but OK. However, that leader proceeded to ignore her own rule, and have more than a few snacks per day. That aggravated me and many other volunteers and certainly did a lot to undermine that leader’s character and authority. I am sure you have encountered a similar situation where a leader set standards that they themselves could not or would not follow. So when you are leading, and setting rules, be the first to follow them. And if you cannot, then you think twice about whether they are good guidelines or rules for your group.

Secondly, a leader must remain accountable for their actions. One of the best ways to do this is to have an accountability partner, coach or mentor who is involved in your life and can recognize areas you are slacking especially if they are character areas.  Buddy is on the board of an organization that does not even spend $500 without the approval of the board.  This creates great accountability for leader and engenders confidence in the rest of the people involved in the organization.

Finally make sure that you are really being honest with others in these situations.  Some parents discipline lying that most because if you are OK with lying all other sins become possible.  If you are not honest with the people in your life accountability becomes a game just like everything else.  If you haven’t been honest with someone in your life, go back and apologize and start over and work at being honest with everyone important in your world.

If you do not have someone who keeps you accountable, consider talking with someone who has a similar leadership position or a friend who is not directly involved in your organization. It can be a mutual accountability, or one way, but the key is to make sure you have someone who will keep you on track, both with your organization and with God.

Get off the Bench and Play

Do not stay on the bench, get up, and enjoy the life God has made you for.

Do not stay on the bench, get up, and enjoy the life God has made you for.

Photo by Chris Gin

When you think about church you usually also think about the pastor who is in charge of that church. Most people would assume that a pastor is, or should be, responsible for everything that occurs at their church. I mean, how hard is it to be a pastor right? All you’ve got to do is give a little sermon on Sundays and be a good person right? Well, pastors actually have a rather difficult job.

Think about this: a pastor’s busiest work day is Sunday; everyone else has this day off. Pastors usually have to work on every major holiday, such as Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. Pastors are often expected, or assumed, to be good with children and organize activities for them. Pastors are expected to be available whenever someone has problem to discuss. A pastor is often paid very little, and expected to make do with a small or insufficient house.  How many other people have hundreds of others that they are to serve who often critique how they are doing.  There are a number of other things that could also be said, but I think you’ve got the idea.

Pastors have a difficult job, which brings me to my point. Every church needs to have a group of leaders to run the church. One of them of course, is the pastor, but also in that key leadership group are people who take on the extra tasks that the pastor can not or should not be doing. In the best possible situation, a pastor should only be doing the things that he is gifted of the Lord to do and the rest of the church should be doing the things that God has gifted them to do.  One of my gifts is being able to do things at the last minute.  I told one of my pastors this and I said if you find out Sunday morning that the children’s church teacher is sick or your voice does not work or somewhere there is a whole that needs to be filled let me know and I’ll take care of it for you.  He took me up on it a couple of times.  Never to preach but he did ask me to fill a whole at the last minute on a number of occaisions.

When a pastor is left to lead by themselves, they will soon fail. So if you are attending a church but are not involved, you should strongly consider taking on a few tasks.  Think about areas where you are gifted and would enjoy pouring into.  If you are not sure ask if you can try out a ministry for a season and see if it is something that God blesses.  The better you know your own strengths and spiritual gifts the more accurately you can offer them to the body.

Don’t delay, begin serving today.

Effective Leaders Must First Learn to Follow Well

There are times to lead, but there are also times to Follow. Know when you need to follow someone else.

There are times to lead, but there are also times to Follow. Know when you need to follow someone else.

photo by mctheriot

To become a great leader you must first learn to follow well.  Even if the person that God has placed in leadership above you is a poor leader, you must honor them.  In every situation you go through it can be used to soften your heart and draw you closer to God or it can be used to harden your heart.  Each situation is a new test and many times it’s harder than the one before.

When you are led by someone else, and take the time to learn from them, you become a much wiser person and leader. All too many leaders today think that they have arrived and do not need to continue learning, but as I talked about in my video series in January, one of the greatest leadership assassins is plateauing.  (You can check out that series here:

http://leadernexus.com/2009/01/


To avoid this, make it a point to always learn, to always take advice, and to always be open to suggestions. As you grow in your leadership people are less likely to offer negative feedback to your unsolicated.  You need to be asking for it if you want to grow.  one of the things that set Ganges Khan apart as a leader was that he was one of the first to demand positive and negative updates from those under his command.  Though it seems to go without question that you can be a better leader with honest feedback in a field of battle we often do not ask for it in our organizations.

Also be sure to make observations of others as they lead.  What works well?  What encourages people to do their best?  What causes people to see the image of God within them?

We have all been in situations where we have had to serve under bad leaders.  While those times are difficult to be sure, God often uses those times to strengthen our character.  Think of David with Saul.  Hopefully your boss or leader that you have to follow hasn’t tried to murder you or sent an army after you to take your life.  Through that situation David grew in character as he learned more deeply to trust the Lord with his life.


David wasn’t a perfect leader to be sure.  In fact, he did not even finish strong.  Most leaders do not.  How can you follow today to help you lead well and finish strong tomorrow.

Seven Benefits of Life Coaching

Life is full of twists and turns but a life coach can help you stay on track

Life is full of twists and turns but a life coach can help you stay on track

Photo by MASON(alex555)

In a sports game, where there is a specific amount of time and a clear winner, the coach’s influence is pretty easy to see.  A great coach can take a good team and mold them into champions.  Like wise sometimes you have a team filled with champions that are unable to even make it to the playoffs because they don’t work well as a team.

Benefits from life coaching can be immediate and often last a life time.  Often a coach will offer a valuable suggestion or ask a question in a way that changes your thinking immediately.  A few years ago I was talking to my life coach about my struggle with desiring to work on business and ministry at the same time and how I felt guilty when I would work on business dreams.  He asked me a question that immediately changed my outlook.  “Buddy, who do you think put the desires in you?”  Obviously it was God but immediately it made it alright to have those dreams and desires instead of something that I always had to be fighting.  That has been a lasting change.

Just a few weeks ago I was talking with a life and leadership coach about the possibility of coaching for our entire organization.  I thought it was going to be strictly business but he opened it up as if it was a coaching call so before we got off I asked him, “Do you mind if I ask you a coaching question to help with my leadership.”  He said to go ahead and with a few quick questions I had a game plan to proceed with a meeting that I had schedule that day.

Here are Seven general benefits that you will probably see if you invest in a life coach.

Seven benefits from life coaching:

1. Life Coaching helps you to figure out your real priorities in your life.

2. Life Coaching helps to shorten the time frame to achieving your goals.

3.     Life Coaching helps to give you an outside viewpoint to allow you to see how God has worked in your life and some of the possibilities for the future.

4. Life Coaching facilitates organization and structure in your life, and encourages you to do above and beyond what you would normally do by yourself.

6. Life Coaching provides you with self-assurance, support, certainty, confidence, encouragement, motivation and inspiration depending on your needs and the situation.

7. Life Coaching helps you to walk in the good works that God has prepared in advance for you so that you don’t go through life aimlessly.

Life Coaching is an investment in yourself that will benefit you for the rest of your life. It can have such positive lasting effects that many see it as a necessary activity for any individual who desires to make their life count.

The key difference that a good life coach should make in your life is to help you reach your goals faster and easier than you can on your own.  A good coach will help you with questions, encouragement and short cuts that you might not have known on your own.  A good life coach can be the difference between living an OK life and living the life of a champion.


10 Leadership Principles from Bill Hybels

Little Ducks following their Leader

Little Ducks following their Leader

Photo by pedrosimoes7

10 Top Leadership Principles

Bill Hybels, in his book, Axiom, has collected a treasure of leadership principles he calls leadership proverbs. Here are the top ten leadership principles that can help you become a better leader.  As with all proverbs some of them may apply to your situation today and some tomorrow but it will help you to be familiar with them when you are in a leadership situation where you can call on them.

1. “The three C’s’ – Character, competency, and chemistry. When you, as a leader, are looking for team members to join your organization, you should follow the three C’s rule. First, look for and find people who have character. This is sometimes difficult to judge from one interview, so take some time to really get to know prospective team member’s character and values. Once you find people with great character, look at their competency. Can they do the tasks required? Be sure that you hire or recruit someone who can accomplish the tasks they need to do. Finally, ensure team dynamics by selecting someone who matches with the chemistry of your group. This is the most overlooked key to a good team and it is such a strong factor in good teamwork. If your new team member simply does not fit with the chemistry of your group, then you must look for someone else.

2. “First tested” – when you find someone new for a high leadership or staff position it is very important to test them in their new role. They might be a great person with all the knowledge but if you don’t test them you might be setting them up for failure with their new job. This ‘test’ is supposed to give both you and them an idea of whether or not they can complete the job successfully. If they don’t do very well, that might simply mean that they need a little training and guidance before you have them start working.

3. “DNA Carrier” – great leaders create and then pass on enthusiasm for their ideas and vision. A key role of a leader is to be the example for others to follow. So if you want people to share your values and enthusiasm, you must pass on your DNA, or core ideals. When a leader has a central focus and specific values, and then they share these with their team members and followers, it creates an entire organization that is dedicated to one objective and can achieve it that much faster.

4. “How are you doing…really?” – In our current American society it is easy to ask how someone is doing, and get the generic response of, “Fine, how are you?” You might spend an entire day with someone, asking that they be focused and turn out results, all the while not knowing they are going through some significant tragedy or event. How hard is it to build relationships with your team members by asking, ‘How are you doing, really?’ The results of developing a relationship can be wide ranging and extremely beneficial. It’s an amazing fact that when you start caring about people, they will start caring about you, what you want from them, and what they should be getting done for you.

5. “Know who’s Driving” – in any situation, any circumstance, or any event, there should always be one, and usually only one, person in charge. Hybels explains that when he starts a meeting, he always asks, “Who’s driving?” in order to assign one person the task of leading the meeting. That way, this person will keep the conversation on track, focus the group, and eliminate wasted time. This principle of ‘who’s driving’ can be applied generally so that there is always someone who is responsible for organizing and accomplishing the tasks or events at hand. Often, as a leader, you will be ‘driving’ and it might be good to clarify this occasionally. Other times, someone else will be put in charge and at that time they need to assert their leadership and position over everyone else, in order to carry out the mission.

6. “Deliver the bad news first” – many leaders will go into meetings and spend the whole time talking about the good points, and then at the very end they will blast their team members with some bad news. What happens when everyone leaves? They leave thinking about the bad news, feeling unsatisfied or guilty. Instead, always make it a point to give the bad news first. Give adequate time, address it clearly, and then move on. Then, when you share the best news last, people will leave feeling motivated and excited.

7. “Just say it” – often, people think that they must say things nicely, that they shouldn’t put things bluntly, or they will be judged for being rude or offensive. Instead they waste time by beating around the bush trying to avoid being impolite. Thus, you as a leader must allow people, and even force people, to speak their mind clearly so that everyone understands what they are trying to say. You also need to ensure that your team won’t judge each other, and that they can freely share their mind.

8. “Leaders call fouls” – with the last principle in mind, at times things do get out of hand. Someone says something that is a little offensive and someone else takes offense. As a leader, you must be able to step in and call ‘foul’ when things start to get out of hand. Recognize when a situation is becoming unproductive or even destructive and then stop it, and get things back on track.

9. “Give me an A, B, or C” – consider this situation; you are in charge of someone who has consistently been doing subpar work. After a month or so, you finally decide to call them into your office and fire them. Upon hearing your thoughts on their performance, the individual exclaims something like, “I had no idea what your expectations were, if you had told me how I was doing, I could have worked a little harder. I thought I was doing good work.” To avoid situations such as this it is important to give some sort of evaluation to let people know how they are doing. Maybe something as simple as giving them a letter grade. Whatever you do, be sure to take time to explain your thoughts, and share ways that they could improve if needed. Don’t simply give them a poor grade without and explanation.

10. “We got to do this together” – when you and your team face a tough task that eventually is accomplished, be sure that, in the same way that you shared the work to get the job done, you share the joy and praise for after the task is accomplished. This is one of the biggest things that could break down a team; only one person getting the glory from finishing tasks.

Now what can you do with these? Take them, use them, and start doing an even better job at leading. Maybe you don’t want to try using every one of these principles, maybe start with the top three that seem most important to you, and then once you are good at following them, select another three. However you want to do it, the key is to start taking steps towards leading more effectively and successfully.

Lead By Example

Blaze a new trail and lead by example

Blaze a new trail and lead by example

photo by Ozyman

Lead by example; you have probably heard that before. Maybe your parents or some other person in your life chided you at some point saying, ‘you must lead by example first’. Now, you might consider it good advice, but nothing really important. However, in reality, it is a very important factor for instilling key values in those under you, plus it is essential for a leader to set a good example.

Every organization usually has several key values it sees as significant for the employees to adhere to and follow. But how can you actually get people to live by these key values? You might impose rules, or incentives, or any other of a number of options and some may have slight success, but there is one option that is double-edged and rather easy to implement.

To set the key values of your organization and get people to follow them, you must first follow those values and be the example for everyone else to follow.

There are two key benefits that come from leading by example.

The first benefit is that the example you set, the key values you follow, will then be followed by those under you. If you want your organization to have certain key ideals, start living them yourself and soon people will notice, and start following those ideals as well.

The second benefit is that you will be a much better leader because you lead by example. People, even those outside your company or organization, will see how you are genuine and real, and will want to follow you.

So have you been setting a good example? Are you leading others by first doing whatever it is that you ware trying to make them do? In what areas can you do a better job of following your own rules and requirements? If you haven’t been setting a very good example so far, that’s OK, you can start today and begin leading by example.