12 Tweetable Principles in Ministry Leadership

Kalendarz listkowy - 12

The change you most need to initiate will often be the hardest change to make.

The loss of power will always be a key objection to change.

People aren’t always taking this as seriously as you are. Remember, you aren’t taking their work as serious as they do either.

All criticism stings. Some more than others. Even when you need to hear it…it hurts.

Being a bad fit for the team doesn’t make someone a bad person.

The power of ministry is never limited when it comes from the right source.

Some of your greatest partners in ministry are often silent partners. When you need them most, God will reveal them.

Your greatest fear will likely be in an area where God can most use you.

Just because it is the right thing to do is no indication that everyone is going to love it.

You build greater loyalty in people when you share a common vision, not when you share common personalities.

People naturally resist what they can’t
understand. That makes casting vision…continually…a premier function of leadership.

You limit what you control.

7 Tips When Attempting to “Lead Up”….Influencing Those Who Lead You

Handshake and teamwork

In ministry and business, I have typically surrounded myself with great young leaders who are 10, 15, even 25 years younger than me. I love the enthusiasm and creative minds of young leaders, and feel a certain calling to invest in the next generation of leaders. In my current church, however, I have equally surrounded myself with people my own age and older. It’s a more established, structured church and the experience has proven invaluable in an environment of change.

Regardless of the age or experience level of the staff I’m supposed to be leading, I try to remain open to my team leading me. They may be more in tune with the generation we are trying to lead. They may have more information about a certain subject. They may simply be better leaders in certain situations. As hard as I try to remain open to input, however, I’m certain there are times they wish they could lead me even more.

The question I often receive from readers of this blog is how to influence those who are supposed to be leading you, especially when many times you may feel as though they don’t welcome your input. That is often true even though you sometimes have better ideas than they may have about an issue.

How can you gain influence over the people in leadership positions when they don’t seem open to or even value your input? How do you “lead up”?

Here are 7 tips when trying to lead up:

Respect – Granted, you may know more than the person leading you about an issue, but chances are he or she has experience you do not have. They are in the position for some reason. Even it you don’t agree with them being The leader, there is something to be gained simply from sitting where they sit. Everyone likes to be respected for their experience and position. Keep in mind that some of your leader’s experiences may have been negative and may have prompted the style of leadership he or she provides now. Try to put yourself in your leader’s shoes. If you have any hope for the leader’s approval you will need to show that you respect the position of authority the person has in the organization. I’m not saying that’s always easy, but it is vital to gaining the trust of the leader. I’m not suggesting you falsely politic your way into the leader’s inner circle. I’m suggesting you humbly and genuinely respect the leader’s position.

Commitment – Be loyal. It’s such a rare occurrence in today’s work environment it is refreshing to a leader when we find it. Buy into the vision and the direction of the team and make your support known…in word and in action. It will impress those around you and the leader.

Work Smart – Do good work. Have a good work ethic. Produce more than expected. You don’t have to sacrifice your family on the altar of work, but you may have to get more disciplined in how you do work. Again, it is a rare commodity today that someone tries to do more than is required of them. When a leaders spots someone willing to go the extra mile, they gain approval and recognition.

Display Kindness– This is a general principle when working with others, but especially true in this situation. If you aren’t likable to the leader, he or she isn’t likely to respond likewise. Have you ever heard, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? That works when trying to gain the favor of a leader too. Even if the leader is unkind at times, attempt to win him or her over with kindness. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

Acknowledge – Recognize the leader’s previous and current contribution to the organization, as well as his or her wisdom. Even if you genuinely respect a leader, he or she isn’t likely to know or appreciate that respect until you let them know. When a leader feels appreciated for their previous efforts, he or she is less likely to feel threatened and more likely to welcome input into future decisions.

Ask – Request the leader’s input and help…even if you don’t necessarily need it. It will show you value them. The best leaders gain insight from lots of different sources. Model this for the ones who are leading you. You may not see the relevance of their insight right now, but they may actually surprise you and add something from their experience that you haven’t thought of or been exposed to yet.

Partner – Find areas of common connection. Even if there is a significant age gap or different paradigms of life, there will be things you have in common. That’s part of all networking and team-building. I see many younger leaders who only want to hang out with younger leaders, and vice-versa for the older leaders. This will never bridge the generational gap and isn’t healthy for the organization. It certainly won’t help you lead up to be exclusive with whom you associate on the team.

I personally understand the frustration of being part of a team, but not feeling you have the freedom to share your opinions or the opportunity to help shape the future of the organization. I have been there. Real leaders never last long in that type environment. There are certainly leaders who will never be open to your input. I recommend discovering this early and not wasting much time battling that type insecure leader.

I have written about that type leader and organization in previous posts HERE, HERE and HERE. Some leaders are toxic and you’ll waste a lot of time trying to satisfy them or gain influence with them. The sooner you discover this the sooner you can work to find yourself in a healthier environment.

With most leaders, however, if approached in the right way, you can earn their respect enough that they welcome you a voice at the table. You may even help them be a better leader. I know my teams have always done that for me. Most leaders over time can begin to see you as more of a helper than a hindrance to their personal success and the health of the overall vision and team. Try these approaches and see if they help your situation.

Let us learn from your experience in leading up.

How have you learned to influence those who are leading you?

7 Traits of a Great Team Member

teamwork concept on blackboard

In the business world and in the church, I’ve learned that having a good team often makes the difference in how well we do at reaching our objectives.

I have been blessed with some great teams in the past. As a result, I frequently get asked if I have any openings on my team. I have a good team now. More than that, I’m asked how I continue to put together such great team. I’m not bragging, it’s simply that I’ve learned a few things about great teams. The longer a great team is together, the better it seems to work together.

I was reflecting recently on what makes a great team member. What is it that causes some teams to gel better than others? What are some of the joint characteristics we share?

Here are 7 traits I believe make a great team member:

Sense of humor – It’s critical that you be able to laugh…at life…at corny jokes…and sometimes at or with each other. I think teams should have fun together. It makes us a better team. We may even occasionally be found in the hallway playing a game. Life…and ministry…is stressful enough. Let’s laugh a little. Together.

Team spirit - We have no lone rangers on our staff. We rebuke struggling alone! We are part of a team and there are no turf wars on our staff and no one should be drowning in a project without some help.

Work ethic I’ve never been great at managing people. As a leader, I simply rely on people having the sense of responsibility and inner drive needed to complete the work. We set definite goals and objectives…measurable wherever possible, but I surround myself with other leaders who are passionate about Christ, our vision and other people and are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish the vision.

Heathy personal life – In ministry, we deal with a lot of messiness in other people’s lives. It would make it very difficult to maintain the level of ministry required of us if we were not personally living healthy lives spiritually, emotionally and, as much as it depends on us, physically. That doesn’t mean we don’t have issues or problems of our own…of course we do…but we are striving to be healthy individually and together.

Transparency – Great team members share burdens with one another. (That’s another way they stay healthy.) Team members don’t live on an island to themselves. The more a team learns to trust each other the greater this process becomes. The team is open to challenge the system, the ministry, the leader, and each other in an attempt to make the organization better.

Loyalty - It is imperative in any organizational structure that a team member be dedicated to the vision, organization, senior leadership and the team. There doesn’t have to be unanimous agreement on every decision…that would be unhealthy…but there must be unanimity of purpose.

Servant’s heart – If one cannot approach their position from a point of serving others and Christ then he or she will not work well on a good team. It should be the model of the entire ministry, so certainly it must be represented by the team members first.

I’m sure there are more, but those are the ones that come to my mind first.

(For clarification, if needed, these are personality traits not spiritual qualifications. Those are Biblically scripted for us and would be covered in another post.)

Do you serve on a healthy team…or wish you did? What would you add to the list?

7 Suggestions When a Good Marriage Isn’t Working

Rear View Senior Man and Woman Couple Walking Holding Hands

All marriages go through periods where things just aren’t as they should be. It’s a natural occurrence in any relationship involving people. (I suppose that would include most marriages). The stress and pace of life causes tension in the best marriages. Even good marriages suffer at times.

Cheryl and I have had several of those times, usually due to external pressures we did not cause or invite. It could be my work — or hers — or family situations. Outside stress causes tension in the relationship. Things aren’t falling apart. We aren’t questioning our commitment to each other — but we both know things aren’t working as well as they should be. We are having more miscommunication, we are more tense in our reaction to each other, or we may just feel we are passing each other through our days, not connecting as well as we usually do. Thankfully, we’ve always been intentional during those times.

Those times are usually seasonal and they happen in most every marriage. That appears especially true in the earlier years of the marriage, but we shouldn’t be surprised if they happen later in a marriage either. When major changes in the marriage or in life occur, such as children moving out of the house, loss of job, or other serious trauma, marriages can struggle for a time. That’s normal.

Those periods can last a week, a few weeks, or a month or more. It isn’t that the couple doesn’t love each other, or even that they want out of the marriage, but that they just aren’t on the same page as much as they should be. The key in those times isn’t to panic, but to intentionally work to restore total health to the marriage.

Have you ever been there?

During these times the way a couple responds is critically important.

Here are 7 suggestions for those seasons of marriage:

Communicate – Keep talking, to each other and to God, even when it’s awkward to do so. Admit where you are in the marriage. Again, this may hurt for a time, but it’s better to be honest than to allow the marriage to fall apart or slip further from health.

Stay close – Keep doing things together. Sleep in the same bed. Find times to do special activities. Have regular date nights. Talk. This will help protect your heart from wandering.

Discipline yourself – There will be times when you are tempted to say the wrong things or treat your spouse unkindly. It will require discipline to do the right thing, and say the right thing, but it will help protect the marriage.

Get help – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even the best marriages need some at times. This may be counseling, meeting with Christian friends you trust, or doing a Bible study together, but it is important you invite someone to speak into your life.

Learn - There are always principles to strengthen your marriage that can be learned during these times. Cheryl and I have learned, for example, that during especially stressful periods that we have to be more intentional with our marriage. You may need to learn how to communicate better, how to handle conflict, or how to dream together again. This is a great season to do some of those things.

Be Patient - You’ll want change immediately, but relationships don’t work that way. Chances are it will take longer than you expect or want it to take to get through this period. Be patient.

Hang on - Renew your commitment to the marriage and each other. These seasons won’t last forever if you continue to work on your marriage. Be committed enough to your marriage to stick with it until this season passes. Every marriage can be restored and improved with two parties working together.

Keep in mind, I’m not talking about times of abuse, neglect, affairs, or severe marriage issues. I’m speaking of times when the marriage just isn’t as much fun anymore. This is also when both spouses still want the marriage to work and are willing to work at making the marriage better. If any of those more serious issues are occurring, get help immediately.

You might also read my post “Making Marriage Fun Again“.

Again, have you been there?

Help others out. How did your marriage survive through these stressful times?

10 Tips on Writing a Good Letter…When a Letter is the Best Way to Communicate

letter_writing_small

I want to encourage you to write a letter today (if needed).

Writing a letter is sometimes the best way to communicate effectively.

When I was doing professional counseling with people who were experiencing difficulty in a relationship I often encouraged them to practice the art of letter writing. Most of the time I tried to help them improve their one-to-one communication skills, but some things are easier and better to express on paper than in person.

For example, a letter may be needed when a couple cannot communicate without arguing…or when one person refuses to listen to reason…or if you can’t even get an audience with the other person. I could be best when one person is so intimidating to talk to that you can’t get a word in verbally. Some people express their best thoughts only when they have time to think about them. And, some things seem to convey more importance and get closer attention if they are written rather than just spoken.

So, if you need to, write a letter. It’s not as impersonal as it may seem. It may actual be more personal.

A letter allows you to think through what you have to say and cuts down on reactionary arguments that come when trying to discuss something controversial. A letter will usually be read several and even many times; further enforcing the points you are trying to make. A letter is harder to dismiss than a verbal conversation.

Please note, I am NOT suggesting an email. This is letter writing. That requires a paper and pen, or at least a printer and paper. Email quickly becomes an exchange of ideas that can almost be as counter-productive as the verbal communication. It’s too easy to hit the “reply” or “forward” button quickly with emails. Who wants something this personal being placed on the Internet? This is often a near “final straw” kind of approach, so put the time into it that it requires.

I’m not advocating that you avoid personal conversations, but if the situation calls for it…

Here are 10 things to remember before writing your letter:

  • Spend as much time praying about it as you spend writing the letter.
  • Edit, then edit, and then edit again. (Again if needed.)
  • Write with an end goal to benefit the receiver and the overall situation in mind. (This should eliminate some things you probably shouldn’t say anyway.)
  • Just as you should do in verbal communication, don’t attack the person; address the issue. Leave personal jabs out of the letter. Try not to start a sentence with “you” or use the word “always”. It puts people on the defensive. (This is what editing is all about.)
  • Try to express your true heart…feelings…but not your anger emotion. Remember, you are attempting to say those things, which for whatever reason, you aren’t able to say effectively in person. Don’t lose your audience by “going off” on the person.
  • The goal is not to be a martyr; no one responds well to that approach. The goal is to be transparent and communicate effectively.
  • Make sure you dedicate as much or even more time focusing on the part you have played in developing a bad relationship or situation. If an apology is needed, give it clearly and completely in the letter.
  • Be clear about the points you are trying to convey. Read them back to yourself.This is one of the best benefits of letter writing. You have the opportunity to clearly think through your response; so don’t lose your chance here.
  • Before you send the letter, ask yourself: “How would I respond if someone sent this letter to me?”
  • If you aren’t certain about the quality of your letter, give these instructions and the letter to someone else (whom you trust) and ask them to read it. Let them tell you how they would respond if they received this letter.

Remember, this is not a miracle cure, so don’t expect immediate results. The person may not respond the way you would have them to and you may not even know they have read the letter. You can be assured they will!

Don’t be afraid to write this kind of letter if you sense it’s warranted. You don’t write this kind of letter often…because it does carry more weight…but if the situations merits it, this can be an effective way to communicate. Chances are if you live a normal life there will be a few situations that merit the true art of letter writing. Write well!

Have you seen where a letter helps a situation better than an face-to-face encounter?

7 Lies We Believe As Pastors

Lies concept.

My heart is for the pastor. Maybe it stems from the fact that I spent more years as a layperson…a deacon and Sunday school teacher…and now, as a pastor. I realize now how much I didn’t understand about the position. The role has a lot more expectations and pressures than I previously imagined. I always loved and supported the pastor, but looking back, I wish I had been an even better pastor’s friend.

One of the other realities, and it’s rather sobering to me, is how isolated many pastors feel from people in their congregation. Isolation almost always seems to lead to a misunderstanding of reality. In essence, and here’s the problem and purpose of this post, if we aren’t careful, we can begin to believe lies about ourselves or our ministries. (That even seems to have Biblical precedence…believing lies got us into trouble from the beginning.)

Here are 7 lies we often believe as pastors:

I’ve got this - The enemy loves it when we begin to think we have completely figured out life or ministry. He loves us to place total confidence in ourselves. Self-confidence, if unchecked, can lead to arrogance, a sense of superiority, and a lack of dependence on God.

That didn’t hurt - Sometimes we pretend what the person said or did to us, doesn’t hurt. We can even spiritualize it because we wear the “armor of God”. In reality, most pastors I know (this one included) have tender feelings at times…some days more than others. We are human. Maturity helps us process things faster, but we never outgrow a certain vulnerability when working with people.

I’m above that – If a pastor ever thinks “that’s too small for me to be concerned about” watch for the fireworks to begin. The devil will see some points he can put on the board. Equally dangerous, when we as pastors believe we are above temptation of any kind, we have the devil’s full attention.

I’m in control – It would be easy to dismiss this one with a strong spiritual response. Of course, Jesus is in control. Hopefully every Bible-believing pastor reading this “Amens” to that truth. But, how many times do we believe we have more authority than we really do…or should? Danger.

I’m growing this church – We must be careful not to take credit for what only God can do. I can’t imagine God would let this lie continue long without equally letting us “believe” (and experience) that we are responsible for declining this church.

If I don’t do this no one will – We stifle spiritual growth of others when we fail to let them use their spiritual gifts. Additionally, we deny the hand and foot their individual role within the body. And, sadly, we often burnout ourselves and our family.

I’ve got to protect my people – I once had a pastor say he couldn’t allow “his” people to believe God still speaks to people today, other than through His Word, because there are too many “strange voices” out there. There are and I believe the Bible is the main source of His communication, but God still speaks. If He doesn’t, let’s quit suggesting people pray about how much God wants them to give to the building fund. When we try to protect “our” people by keeping them from His provision, we make them our people and keep them from fully understanding they are really His children. Let us instead teach them how to know God more intimately and discern His direction. His sheep know His voice.

I’m sure there are many other lies we can fall prey to as pastors. Exposing them can help us from being distracted by them and allow us to call on His strength to overcome them. Trading prayers for pastors as I type this post.

What other lies have you seen pastors believe? 

7 Ways a Husband Injures a Wife…Without Even Knowing It

image

I recently posted “7 Ways a Wife Injures a Husband…Without Even Knowing It“. It’s been a popular post. Thankfully, I’ve not seemed to make a lot of women mad…a few…but not many that I have heard from…yet. We will see how the men respond with this post.

As I committed, a companion post is warranted. Guys, we injure our wife. All of us do. We are different and the way we respond to our wife often causes injury. And, most of the time, it’s unintentional. We didn’t even know we were doing it.

I’m not making excuses for us. We should strive to learn our spouse…and do better…understanding our differences…communicating better…injuring less. That’s what this post is about. Awareness. Understanding.

I ran this post by my wife…so it’s Cheryl approved, although it wasn’t hard to write. As a counselor and pastor, I’ve worked with hundreds of couples and have seen this countless times. I wish I could say I never did any of these…but that would be a lie. This post is written with one finger pointed forward…and four more pointed my way.

Here are 7 ways a husband injures a wife…without even knowing it:

Cuts her out of the discussion – When you act as if she isn’t even there or wouldn’t understand what you’re talking about, she feels a part of her is detached. She sees the marriage as a partnership…in every part of life…even the parts she may never fully understand.

Fails to notice the difference she makes – A woman doesn’t want to be appreciated for only what she does. She wants you to appreciate who she is, but you can admit it – she does a lot. Whether it’s decorating the house or making sure the clothes are clean…or that you have your favorite soap…a woman wants to know what she does is valued by you.

Underestimates the small stuff – You only said “this” but it was “THIS” to her. And it hurts. You may even think it’s funny. She may even laugh. But it is often building a wall of protection around her heart each time you do. The key here is that you can’t talk to her like you might talk to another guy. She hears and feels deeper than you do. Words can and do hurt.

Speaks with curtness - When you talk down to her, as if she’s somehow less than you, you bruise her spirit. Deeply. And, you know she’s not less than you…you don’t even think she is…she just can’t tell that sometimes based on your tone and the way you talk to her.

Corrects her as she’s talking - This could be finishing her sentences or speaking for her in the company of others. She feels demeaned and devalued when you present her to others as if she can’t compete with you in original thought…which you know isn’t true. (My wife is much smarter than me.)

Acts suspicious - Don’t misunderstand or misapply this one. When you hide information, even when you think you’re protecting her, you cause her to question your motive. When you protect your calendar…or act like you are upset at the question “What did you do today?” or “What did you talk about?” or “Who was that?” when someone calls, it gives her an eerie feeling something is wrong. And, that hurts.

Admires other women over her – She sees you looking. She may even understand your highly visual make-up. It hurts her, however, when a glance becomes a stare…especially when it happens everywhere you go…all the time.

A wife’s heart, no matter how independent or strong she is, is tender in places. Lots of places. She can bruise easily in some areas of her life…especially the places that involve the people she loves the most…like you. A husband who understands this is more careful in how he speaks and responds to her.

Most husbands I know would never injure their wife knowingly. They want to be her protector. Men, when we don’t realize the damage we are doing to our wives emotions, we invalidate every desire we have to be her defender. I always like to use this thought as a reminder: Would I ever allow another man to speak to or treat my wife like I am doing? She’s a precious gift guys…let’s treat her well.

What other ways do husbands injure their wives, without even knowing it?

(Note: I used this post in a message I preached on marriage. You can view it HERE. Also, I wrote a parenting version of this post about ways parents injure a child. Read it HERE.)

7 Acts of Grace in a Marriage

happy young couple

After years of working with marriages, including my own, I’ve come to a conclusion. Marriages that struggle are often lacking one key ingredient. It’s something that, when missing from any relationship, will cause trouble in the relationship. The missing ingredient is called grace. And, when applied appropriately, it’s amazing.

If the marriage is struggling, one remedy is to apply more grace. Of course, it ultimately takes two people to make the marriage work, but one way to improve things is to interject more grace. When both parties are grace-giving to each other, the marriage can soar.

Here are 7 acts of grace in a marriage:

Recognize differences – You first have to know them, but you have to give grace for your uniqueness. No two people in the world are alike and that’s never realized as more true than in a marriage relationship. The more you understand those differences the better you’ll be able to grow the strength of the marriage. And, if you live in the grace of marriage you’ll spend a lifetime in discovery…never believing you’ve got this person completely figured out, but always dating, always exploring new dreams together, always learning about each other.

Respect differences – It is not enough just to know the differences, you have to accept them. Respect them. This doesn’t mean making excuses for them but fully embracing the other person’s uniqueness as a gift to the marriage and allowing them to work for the marriage rather than against it. I’m an introvert. My wife is an extrovert. I can’t always be introverted and respect her extroversion. And vice-versa. I need to talk and listen sometime for her. She needs to allow quiet sometimes for me, but when we blend the two differences together, we become a power couple for the ministry God has given us.

Clear boundaries – Don’t hold your spouse accountable for what they don’t know. Understand the unique needs of each person to keep the marriage strong. Establish the boundaries that are reasonable and agreed upon by both spouses, then live within them. It’s not legalism, it’s giving grace to the other person. For example, I know that Cheryl needs quality time. It’s her love language. I extend grace to her when I protect my schedule to spend ample time with her during the week. She knows I am fueled on her respect of me, so she “graces” me by not speaking down to me in public.

Forgive easily – Have high standards for your marriage, but recognize two imperfect people are trying to uphold them. You’ll make mistakes. Both of you. You aren’t perfect. And, neither is the person you married. You extend grace when you practice granting forgiveness more than you practice holding a grudge.

Serve expecting nothing in return - Part of gracing one another is doing for each other with no strings attached. The goal is not a 50/50 partnership, but that each spouse extend 100% grace to one another. When a couple mutually submits to one another…even out-serving each other…the bond of the marriage is strengthened. (See Ephesians 5:21)

Extend trust – A marriage won’t grow far beyond where trust is still being earned. Many of us bring our own hurts into a marriage. It can be difficult to place full confidence in the other person, especially after mistakes are made. For a marriage flourish, you have to risk being hurt and extend the grace of trust. (There will be those reading this who have had reasons to mistrust their spouse…I get that…and it takes time to recover from severe hurt in the marriage. At some point, however, for the marriage to ever be all it should be, a risk of trust will have to be given again. That takes grace.)

Love the mundane – Let’s be honest. We live in a fast-paced world and sometimes, if things aren’t moving fast enough, we can fall into routines and life can be boring. That bothers some of us more than others. For some of us, we love the big…the grandiose. We love the mountaintop weekends and the pinnacle vacations. We want every moment of our life to be extraordinaire. And, frankly, it’s not. It can’t be. And, if we aren’t careful, we can get bored even in the marriage. In fact, I’d be bold enough to say boredom is a leading cause of marriages that fall into trouble. It often starts there at least. Grace in a marriage means that we learn to love the highs…which is easy…and the lows…which is hard…and the mundane…which is sometimes…for some people…the hardest of all.

Can I ask you a question? Will you be honest with yourself?

Is your marriage suffering from a lack of grace?

3 Problems with Being Too Nice as a Leader

Mister nice guy

I was talking with a leader recently. She’s an incredibly kind and gentle person. She’s smart, hard-working, and loyal. She’s a relational leader and usually brings out the best in people, so she’s had success in leadership. She is currently experiencing problems in a new position and asked for my help.

In talking through the specific situation, it quickly became obvious that she has one weakness and it is currently effecting her entire team. It’s a common weakness among leaders. At times, most of us will struggle in this area.

Her weakness?

She is being too nice!

Granted, that doesn’t sound like it could ever be a weakness. And, it has made her well-liked in the organization. She’s incredibly popular. And, she likes that. But, it also has made her team less successful than it could be. And, she knows it.

Currently, a few team members are taking advantage of her niceness by under-performing in their role. She hasn’t challenged the problems, even though she knows she should. She’s losing sleep over it, but doesn’t know what to do. The relational leadership in her, which is a positive about her leadership style, is not working with these team members.

Perhaps you’ve seen this before in an organization. Maybe you’ve been on either side of this issue. If this is your situation, you have probably even thought or said things such as, “I gave them an inch and they took a mile.” 

I am not suggesting one become a mean leader. That would be wrong. It certainly wouldn’t be Biblical leadership. I am suggesting one become a wise leader. Wisdom learns to guide people in the direction that’s best for them, the leader, and the entire team or organization. In the situation above, I advised my friend to take off her “nice hat”, at least temporarily, to address the few people causing the majority of the problems that are impacting the entire team. As hard as it will seem at first, in the end it will be a blessing for the entire team…and my leader friend.

I have learned people accept the what better if they first understand the why…so then I shared with her why I feel her default niceness is causing current problems for the team.

Here are 3 problems with being too nice as a leader:

It’s bad for the leader – The leader ends up stressing over the wrong things. Instead of worrying about the big picture, the leader is focused on a few problems with usually only a few people. The leader feels unsuccessful, even like a failure at times, as the team achieves less than desired results.

It’s bad for the organization – The team suffers because a few people mess up the system and progress for everyone else. Those on the team who wish to do the right thing lose respect for the leader. Others will follow the example of those taking advantage of the leader and lower their own performance standards. The organization loses.

It’s bad for the person taking advantage of the leader’s niceness – Enabling bad behavior is never good for the under-performing team member. It keeps him or her from identifying their full potential and from realizing personal success. They may be a superstar if they were given structure and held accountable to complete their work. And, they may never improve…and sometimes the best thing you can do for that person…certainly the team…is help them move on to something new.

Leader, have you become too nice as a leader?

Are you allowing problems to continue out of a fear of not being liked? There is nothing wrong with being a relational leader. That can be a great style of leadership, but part of developing any healthy relationship involves conflict, tough conversations and difficult decisions.

If you are not careful you can become everyone’s friend, but nobody’s leader.

Leading is hard…some days harder than others. The sooner you handle the problem (and the problem people), the sooner things will begin to improve on your team for everyone…and the sooner you can get a good night’s rest.