7 Characteristics of Cowardly Lion Leadership

You remember the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz don’t you?  He was supposed to be the king of the jungle but he had no courage.

Sadly I see this missing in much leadership today. Let’s face it.  Leading others is hard. There is often loneliness to leadership. (I wrote about it HERE.)  Leadership takes great courage.

Here are 7 characteristics of cowardly leadership:

  • Says “I’ll think about it” rather than “No”…even no is already the decided answer…
  • Avoids conflict…even when it is necessary for the good of relationships and the organization…
  • Never willing to make the hard decisions…
  • Pretends everything is okay…even when it’s not…
  • Bails on the team when things become difficult…
  • Refuses to back up team members…
  • Caves in to criticism…even if it is unfounded…

What would you add to my list?

Do you find it scary to be a leader sometimes?  What’s the scariest time you face as a leader?

Tomorrow I will share “7 traits of courageous leadership”.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add video comment

Have you Subscribed via RSS yet? Don't miss a post!

24 thoughts on “7 Characteristics of Cowardly Lion Leadership

  1. I wonder if the cowardly leader is afraid of change, or of losing control. It seems to me that "control" is the one thing with which the enemy always (from Gen. 3 until present day) tempts us…especially leaders. Think about it. If he can get us, as leaders, to believe that WE (not God) is in control of our "ministry", then the enemy has won. The control issue may manifest itself in different ways, but the root issue seems to be control.
    That being said, I'd say that the list you came up with and many of those things added to the list are possibly symptoms of the FEAR OF LOSING CONTROL. (at least perceived control). Just a thought…

    • I think you might be on to something here. And I think it's something we all face, at least somewhat. I know I do. I want to be in control, or at least look like I'm in control. That's human nature (fallen, of course). The trick is in denying that nature and leading above that level of cowardliness into courageous leadership.

  2. As a Youth worker I have and, still am, dealing with fathers and single mothers with several of the same characteristics. It leaves so many questions for my kids. It tends to leave me in a bit of a tough spot also, trying to help them find answers without seeming to attack their parent. I think Kenny has a good handle on it; afraid of change? Especially the single parents; they were in a relationship and had a partner, then *poof* they didn't , the change will sometimes leave them in a place , I guess, of "nirvana ".

  3. I think a cowardly leader is afraid of change. A cowardly leader is afraid to embrace new ideas that have the potential to benefit the team and its vision. They may fear relinquishing some of the glory to the team-member with the good idea. Or, they fear falling face flat in an area they don't yet fully understand. Either way, its cowardly.

  4. That's a great list! The fear of confrontation will ultimately destroy a ministry's effectiveness… and I found it interesting that on some level, all of your points could be boiled down to that one. (Not wanting to say no… not wanting to make decisions… not wanting to take sides… bailing when the going gets rough… all definite non-confrontational characteristics.)

    I would add:
    – Making rules to handle the exceptions (rather than dealing with the exceptions individually)
    – Hiding behind a wall of "yes men" (rather than engaging in true dialog)
    – Refusing accountability
    – "Congregation Shopping" (refusing to stay where you can't get your way)

    Of course, all of mine are essentially "non-confrontational" traits as well.

    I wonder if part of the problem is that we've confused "Christian" with "Cowardly." We're so afraid of offending people, that we do them a disservice by not correcting early on. Do we falsely believe that "grace" means never saying "that's not right?"

  5. Like mentioned above, "My way…" is one of them.

    Another cowardly leadership technique is failing to take charge. We had a guy in a previous youth ministry that was teaching some of our junior high boys thing that didn't line up with our teaching, in the area of relationshipsand sex. I did not want to confront this. I spent sleepless nights praying for God to miraculously appoint another to do it. But, in the end, it was up to me, and me alone, to address the situation and begin working toward a resolution. Hard? Yes. Necessary. Again, yes. But I know I grew from the experience. I hope he did as well.

    I think one of the problems with cowardly leadership is that if you don't take steps to reverse it quickly, it can become a serious downward spiral, becoming harder and harder to address. Cowardly leadershp can cause paralyzation by fear very quickly, in my experience.

    Anyway, thanks for the post! Looking forward to the courageous one!

    • I agree here, randleman. I have often been too slow to confront and do it finally when it HAS to be done. Alot of heartache would be saved and credibility bought if I would have done it earlier. Not to mention, it too often becomes a leadership trait. A cowardly leader.

  6. Oh yeah!

    "My way is the only right way…" Only I have the gift.

    Runs the team … instead of letting it run. Cowardly? Definately… in refusing to trust teams talents or allow the members to outshine the leader.

    Most controlling leadership is caused by fear of individual inadequacy.