Many times a leader can be clueless about the real health of the organization they lead. If a leader refuses to solicit feedback, doesn’t listen to criticism or stops learning, they can begin to believe everything is under control — when in reality — things are falling apart around them.
I once watched as a church crumbled apart while the pastor thought everything was wonderful. He always had an excuse for declining numbers and never welcomed input from others. It got bad enough for the church to have to ask him to leave. It was messy. It could have been avoided, in my opinion.
And, sadly, that could be the stories of hundreds of churches and organizations.
The best leaders, however, avoid what I call the leadership vacuum.
I have heard the term leadership vacuum used to describe the need for more leaders, but I believe the biggest void may be within leaders themselves.
The leader in a leadership vacuum believes:
Everyone on the team understands me. And, I understand them.
Everyone on the team thinks like I think. We are in complete unity. I know this without asking anyone.
Everyone on the team likes me. And, they are glad I’m the leader.
My team is completely healthy. And, so am I. We don’t need to worry about that kind of thing.
I am this team. This team needs me. In fact, they couldn’t do it without me.
The organization is headed in the right direction in every area. We don’t need any changes.
Our systems and plans are flawless. Nothing can stop us now.
Granted, any or all of these may be true at a given time, but if we always assume they are is when we get into trouble as a leader. When the leader is clueless to the real problems and needs in the organization, he or she is living in the leadership vacuum. The best leaders are aware of the vacuum trap and guard against it in their leadership.
Leaders, have you ever lived in the leadership vacuum? Are you there now?
Have you followed a leader in the vacuum?