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.

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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.