7 Leadership Default Zones


There are a lot of gray issues in leadership. Having a default zone when things on both sides appear equal or you are uncertain about a decision may help you make better decisions. These aren’t foolproof, as many things in leadership are not, but having a general idea which way you would “default” to in common situations that occur most frequently in leadership may prove to be helpful.

If you consistently have to make the same type decisions as a leader, think through which way has over time proven to be best. That becomes your default zone.

Here are some of my leadership default zones:

In matters of hiring…default to no over yes – If in doubt over whether the person is a good fit, I vote no. It’s not worth taking a chance when adding to the team and when I haven’t followed this one it has usually turned out to be a mistake.

If you think you shouldn’t say it…don’t – I often don’t follow my own advice here, but I’ve learned if my gut is telling me to “keep a tight rein on my tongue”, it’s likely to be a Biblical conviction. The more I discipline myself in this area the more respect I garner as a leader.

If it’s between empower or control…choose empower – Except in cases such as vision or a moral issue, letting go of control and empowering others almost always works out better than expected. Even if the person isn’t successful, I have seen that the learning curve for them and the team is huge and often some of the best discoveries for the team are made when I get out of the way.

My preference or the team’s preference…go with the team – There are times I have to make the hard decision to stand alone, but I try to surround myself with people smarter than me. If I am clearly outnumbered, I tend to lean on the wisdom of the team. You won’t keep respect as a leader if you continually stand opposite your team and keep being proved wrong.

In person or by email…choose in person – By far, email is my most frequent communication tool. It has to be, just because of the sheer number of communications I have in a given week. But, when I can, especially with our staff, I choose the personal touch. Get up from the desk and walk down the hall when it is an available option. Email and text are misunderstood far too many times.

If there’s doubt…ask for clarification – If you aren’t sure you understand what someone is thinking…if it doesn’t appear they understand you…rather than assume…ask. I’m continually asking my team something such as, “When you said _____, can you help me understand what you meant by that?” Misunderstanding leads to strained relationships and unhealthy teams.

Grace or dismissal…choose grace – There are times when you simply have to make the difficult decision. But, when you can….extend grace. Some of my best, more loyal team members became that way only by grace.

Learning some of your leadership default zones may make you a better leader.

Do you have any you would add?

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

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13 thoughts on “7 Leadership Default Zones

  1. Thanks for another magnificent post. Where else may anyone get that type of information in such an ideal method of writing? I've a presentation next week, and I am on the search for such info.

  2. Really like what you said about control or empower… never really thought about it that way, the learning curve for the team…hmmm. Thanks!
    Loyalty leans into the team member. The “human condition” likes to complain and “pick apart” a newbie! A newbie is trying to get grafted into the leadership team and assumptions really derail that. You can pick apart a new person, just because they are different, but can you know their heart? It takes quality time to know a person’s heart and loyalty displayed, points people to the heart of the matter=”God equipped them and sent them here, they may be different, look beyond that, bear with them… “ You leaning into loyalty for the team member, helps them to become deeply rooted to the team and teaches others to look deeper, because this “newbie” may be different, but the God purpose inside is bigger than the surface difference outside. GRRRR… people can be so hard on new leaders and hurt their ability to be grafted into the team. I truly think loyalty is like the twine that holds the graft in place until it takes.
    Galatians 5:15 But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other!

    Twitter: kmac4him

  3. ~ Humility or Self trumpeting……choose humility
    ~ Tit for tat or forgiving……choose forgiving
    ~ To be a "yes man" or be a man of conviction……choose to be a man of conviction/principle
    ~ Surviving ("have to…" mentality) or thriving… ("got to…." mentality)…… choose thriving

  4. I would, if you don't mind, like to expound on what you listed.
    You mentioned " In person or email- do in person. " I agree! Not only are you abke to make a point more clearly, but it also makes a personal statement. When you send an email, it has a cold, impersonal touch. When you take the time to go in person, you let that person know the importance of statement, and it lets that person know that it meant something to you that they understand what was being said. It alows you to get whatever feedback there may be. I like the personal touch.
    Twitter: bryankr

  5. To share or not to share with the team, I typically will go towards share. I think transparency is best…bad things grow in the dark. Depending on the information and it's potential impact, I'll select the delivery method carefully.

    In deciding if an issue or task requires a meeting or "task group"….I tend to shy away from the meeting or group. We question every meeting and new task group twice, if not three times. A few extra minutes considering if the time and energy of a meeting will result in a net gain or not can save lost time later. A meeting should multiply time whenever possible.