7 Criteria to be a Good Change Agent Leader

image

In my observation, many leaders want change and know they need to lead for change, but they haven’t been able to actually produce change.

I think there are reasons for this.

The process of change isn’t easy. And, it doesn’t happen overnight. Some leaders move too fast. Others move too slow. Plus, not every church, business or non-profit will tolerate change – or at least to the level prescribed by a leader. The leader needs to know when to push and when to leave things alone for a while.

It’s a delicate process leading change. And, the simple fact is, some leaders simply don’t know how to introduce healthy change. (This is not intended as a slam. It’s a reality statement.)

I believe change is necessary for growth. I don’t think everything has to change. Some things never should. But, change, even the hardest kind of change, has to occur if progress towards worthy visions is going to continue to occur.

This post is sort of a gut check for those who want to lead change – attempting to reconcile some of the criteria to be a good change agent leader.

Please understand, I’m not an expert, nor am I claiming to be. I have led lots of change – some successfully and some not so much – but, I’ve worked with dozens of leaders in leading change. And, I’ve there are some characteristics which work better than others.

7 criteria to be a good change agent leader:

A willingness to fail.

Not all change will work. You can strategize and plan, but change at some level involves the risk it may not work. Good change agent leaders know this in advance and are willing to accept the challenge – and not defeated if it doesn’t. They try again in another way.

Able to withstand strong criticism.

Change invites pushback. Change changes things. (That’s deep, isn’t it?) Change is uncomfortable and people will tell you the degree of discomfort they are feeling. Sometimes in passionate – even mean ways. If they don’t tell you they will – with passive aggression – tell others who will eventually tell you. You’ll feel unpopular at times. Rumors may spread about you. Good change agent leaders keep the vision ever before them and are motivated more towards the accomplishment of it than making sure everyone is pleased with them personally.

Constantly evaluate and are willing to adjust their plans accordingly.

You can’t be a good change agent and equally be a control freak. You are leading people through sometimes muddy waters. You’ll need to solicit buy-in from others. You will need to collaborate. You’ll need to process the success rate of the change and recalibrate as needed. You’ll have to delegate – and this means release the right to determine the exact way something is done. Progress towards the goal must be more important than the exact actions taken towards achievement of them.

Must outlast the opponents of change.

When the naysayers show up good change agents are willing to stand strong for that which they believe is worth fighting. It will likely take longer than you hoped it would. At times you’ll feel like quitting, but good change agent leaders stand the test of time.

Think bigger than today.

Change is always going somewhere new. Always. So change agent leaders have to be able to think about the options which aren’t currently on the table. You’ve got to think beyond now and even beyond the most immediate future. You have to look for what others can’t see, choose not to or are afraid to see (or admit).

Must challenge status quo.

This the kicker, isn’t it? Change agent leaders have to go against the way things are being done and the way things have always been done. We are talking about change. Get it? Change. This means something is changing. (Oh, such a deep post.) You have to move people from the center on which they’ve grounded themselves. This is never comfortable. But, good change agent leaders are willing the challenge what has become standard or traditional in people’s minds.

Need to work within a DNA conducive to change.

Here’s another kicker – and this one has more to do with the organization or people receiving the change than the leader implementing change. Every church and every organization in which you are called to bring change isn’t wired for change. The fact is some of those said churches and organizations are going to die – they’ll stall – perhaps for long periods, but they’ll eventually just fade away. And, nothing you can say or do will encourage otherwise. In the end, you can’t lead people where they don’t want to go. The sooner you can learn this fact the quicker you can try to be a good change agent where change may actually occur.

Well, those are some hard realizations. I’ve studied and observed them by working with dozens of churches, businesses and non-profits and in the organizations and churches in which I have led. And, most of all, I’ve seen them true in my personal journey as a leader.

I should note, I believe we can grow in leaders in these characteristics. Of course, the last one we can’t do a lot about – but, even there, I’ve learned some places where others have said change couldn’t or wouldn’t occur haven’t always proven to be true. Sometimes the answer to making better changes is simply we must become better leaders. 

What have you seen as necessary criteria to be a good change agent?

Happy Easter! He Is Risen! Take Off The Grave Clothes!

empty garden tomb

When He had said this Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:43-44

The event in these verses triggered the Pharisees to crucify Jesus. Lazarus had been dead four days. Jewish tradition prompted the family to bury soon after death, but the Jews also believed the spirit hovered over the dead body for up to three days. This time too had passed. Lazarus was a fully dead man! It was a real miracle to bring him back to life, and this was too much for the Pharisees. 

What the Pharisees underestimated was this power would continue to be exhibited in the life of Christians for thousands of years to come. If you are a child of God, you have been brought from death unto life.

Jesus had raised Lazarus from the grave. We should love the story because it shows the power of the Savior. We can know if He can raise the dead to life, we can trust Him to help us make our house payment or whatever struggles our life may hold. We need to remember this in the day in which we live. Since Jesus has power over death is there anything in your life He can’t handle?

Jesus came to give us life! Jesus told Lazarus to take off His grave clothes, to quit “living” like he was dead. Shouldn’t we do the same thing?

Have you received Christ as your Savior? Is your name recorded in Heaven as a child of God?

Well, stop “living” among the dead. Look alive! Don’t let this world define your peace, contentment, or joy.

Jesus saved you by grace, through faith, not unto death, but unto life! Shouldn’t this make a noticeable difference in your life today?

Take off your grave clothes and LIVE!

Happy Easter!

7 Excuses I’ve Heard for Not Leading Well

exhausted man

In working with other churches and ministries, and in my experience in the business world, it seems we are desperate for good leadership. Organizations and teams thrive on good leadership.

As much as we need good leaders, it seems whenever I meet a leader struggling in their role, rather than admit it could be them, often I only hear excuses. It must be easier to pass blame than to own the problem as our own.

And, in full disclosure, I’ve probably been as guilty as anyone at times in my leadership career.

The excuses, however, are fairly common.

Here are 7 excuses I’ve heard – or used – for not leading well:

I don’t know how.

With each new season in leadership there will be a learning curve. If you’re leading, then your introducing change – you’re taking people somewhere they haven’t been before. This means there will be lots of unknowns in your world for a while. But, don’t use this as an excuse. Learn. Take a course. Get a mentor. Read some books. Ask better questions. Grow as a leader.

I can’t get people to follow my lead.

Well, we may have to check our leadership definition, but don’t give up. If God has called you to this – discover how to motivate people. Most people will follow someone if you’re taking them somewhere they need to go, but aren’t sure how to get there. Make sure you have a vision worth following, learn to communicate well and do all you can to help people attain it. In terms of communicating well – I often tell pastors – you’re best “sermon” may be the one you give to motivate people towards the change or vision. Early in my leadership career I participated in an organization called Toastmasters to help train as a communicator. 

I can’t keep up!

This can be a legitimate excuse at times – leadership can be overwhelming with the amount of change in our world, but we shouldn’t let it remain this way. Leaders have to learn to pace themselves. You have to surround yourself with others who can help carry the load. You can’t try to do everything or control every outcome. Learn delegation. And, don’t try to change everything at once. My rule of thumb is to be working on no more than 3 major changes at a time. This requires patience, because I may see 100 things which need to change. The only thing which works well though when I try to do too much at one time is I get to add to my excuses for not leading well. 

No one taught me how to lead.

And, that’s probably true. I have found many leaders are terrible at reproducing leaders. We don’t apprentice well. So, what are you going to do about it? Leaders find solutions to problems. They don’t let problems become the excuse. Learn from experience. It’s the best teacher anyway. Learn from trying. Learn from watching others. Just learn. It’s never too late to learn something new.

Times have changed.

This is true also. Times have changed. Cultures have changed. The workforce has changed. And, they will keep changing – fast! Good leaders adapt accordingly. They discover new approaches. They don’t make excuses.

It’s my team – I don’t have the right team.

Well, instead of using it as an excuse, you have a few options. Make them a better leader. Get a new team. Or, keep making excuses.

I’m burnout!

This excuse can be real also. It happens to all of us at times. But, don’t settle for this one. Get help. Heal. Rest. Renew. Regroup. Get healthier so you can lead again. Sometimes stopping for a while is your best answer – even amidst the busiest times. 

Honestly, I’m not trying to be sarcastic, arrogant, or unsympathetic. I realize each of these deserve their own post. I really do believe, however, good leadership is mostly finding a worthy vision, recruiting the right people and discovering ways to help people get there. And, we get better the more we practice.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring a spiritual aspect into this – I am a pastor. My best leadership book is the Bible. My best leader example is Jesus. And, I have learned when I am being obedient to Him I lead better naturally. It doesn’t mean everything falls into place beautifully – it does mean I have all I need to lead – even when everything around me is a mess. 

Seriously, look over the list again. Are there any of them that can’t be overcome with a little determination?

Let’s stop the excuses and make better leaders!

12 Words of Encouragement for Pastors (Or Other Leaders)

caucasian business executive praising subordinate by giving a pat on the shoulder.

I love pastors. Each week, through this blog and my personal ministry, God allows me to partner with dozens of pastors, helping them think through life and ministry issues. I’ve learned many pastors struggle to find people who will invest in them and help them grow as individuals, leaders and pastors.

I frequently have pastors – or other leaders – ask me for my “best advice” for those in leadership positions. I have to be candid – it’s a difficult request. I’ve learned so much through the pastors who have invested in me and by experience. It’s hard to summarize all I’ve learned over the years – especially by trial and error. It could probably fill a book or two – but certainly more than one blog post!

I put some thought into the question and decided to come up with a list of encouragement, one I would give to all pastors or leaders, to answer the question. I will address pastors, but wisdom is transferable to other fields, so change a few words and I’d give this advice to any leaders. I decided my best advice deals with the soul of a leader – hence the title.

Here are 12 words of encouragement to protect the soul of pastors:

Choose your friends wisely – but make sure you choose friends.

Don’t attempt to lead alone. Too many pastors avoid close friendships because they’ve been hurt. They trusted someone with information who used it against them. Finding friends you can trust and be real with means you’ll sometimes get injured, but the reward is worth it. And, it’s cliche, but to find a friend – be a friend.

The church can never love your family as much as you do.

Your family needs you more than the church does. They can get another pastor. Your family doesn’t want another you. You’ll have to learn to say “no”, learn how to balance and prioritize your time, and be willing to delegate to others in the church. (I’ve blogged several times on saying no, but you may want to read THIS POST from my friend Michael Hyatt on saying “no” with grace.”)

If you protect your Sabbath day, your Sabbath day can better protect you.

You’ll wear out quickly without a day a week to rejuvenate. God designed us this way. Take advantage of His provision. Take time to rest. You may not rest like everyone else – for me rest doesn’t mean doing nothing – but you need time away from the demands of ministry regularly. Lead your church to understand you can’t be everywhere every time. You owe it to yourself, your family, your church and your God.

You have influence – use it well.

The pastorate comes with tremendous power and responsibility. It’s easy to abuse or take for granted. Don’t do it! Humility welcomes the hand of God on your ministry. Use your influence for Kingdom good more than for personal gain.

No amount of accountability or structure can stop failure if a heart is impure.

Above all else, guard your heart. (Proverbs 4:23) Avoid any hint of temptation. Look for the warning signs your heart is drifting. Allow others the freedom to speak into the dark places of your life, but, more than anything, keep your heart saturated with God’s Word and in prayer.

Let God lead.

You can do some things well. God can do the impossible. Whom do you think should ultimately be leading the church? You’ll be surprised how much more effective your leadership will be when it’s according to His will and not yours. This will take discipline, humility, and practice.

If you can dream it, God can dream it bigger.

Don’t dismiss the seemingly ridiculous things God calls you to do. They won’t always make sense to others or meet their immediate approval, but God’s ways will prove best every time. When you ever stop being encouraged towards the seemingly impossible you may need to question whether you’re still walking by faith.

Keep Jesus the center of focus in the church.

You’ll never have a money problem, a people problem, or a growth problem if people are one with Jesus. Jesus always leads people following Him towards truth. So, lead people towards Jesus.

Your personal health affects the health of the church.

Take care of yourself relationally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This, too, requires discipline, balance and prioritizing, but if, to the best of your ability, you strive to be healthy in every area of your life, as a good shepherd, your people will be more likely to follow your example.

The people in your church deserve authenticity.

As a leader, you set the bar of expectations, so your authentic actions encourage people to be transparent with you and others. When you’re authentic you help eliminate unrealistic expectations people may place upon you. Don’t be someone you’re not. Be someone worthy to follow, but make sure you’re living it – not just teaching it.

You’ll never make everyone happy.

Part of leadership is making decisions. With every decision comes different opinions of the decision you made. If your goal is to make people happy you’ll end up being very unhappy – and very unproductive. Everyone will suffer as you strive to be popular, but flounder in effectiveness.

People only know what they know.

One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made (and make) in leadership is assuming everyone will be on the same page as me – or they understand what I’m trying to communicate. This is unfair to people who don’t have the vantage point I have or who don’t even view the world as I view it. The more I grow as a leader the more I realize one of my greatest needs is more and better communication.

What word of encouragement do you have for pastors (or other leaders)?

7 Thoughts on Creating Unity in a Church for a New Pastor

Unity

I once consulted with a church struggling to move forward. The pastor had been there a couple years, had a great vision and was supported by most everyone, there were adequate resources, the community needed a healthy church (as all do), but they never could get any traction.

In working with the church, I quickly assessed they had a unity problem. The church had two dominant factions – mostly split over a denominational issue. I felt like a genius consultant when I uncovered the root problem, but the truth is I only discovered what they already knew – yet never admitted.

The challenge wasn’t discovering the problem, however, it was in finding solutions. The church needed to come together if there was any hope to move forward and realize all the opportunities God was sending their way.

It should be noted – this church was united around the Gospel. They wanted to see people come to know Christ. They were divided by lesser issues. If a church can’t rally around making disciples of Jesus Christ – our core purpose – it will be near impossible to unite on anything else. 

So how do you create unity in a church?

Here are 7 thoughts on creating unity in a church:

Avoid the core DNA when making changes

There are some things which are not worth changing – especially until unity returns. It makes no sense to create further disunity in an area where the church is already unified. For example, if the church is overwhelmingly supportive of Sunday school, but you are a proponent of small groups, don’t try to make the change now (if ever) until unity is achieved. (If the core DNA is divisiveness harder decisions regarding the vitality and future of the church should be made.)

Find common ground

What do people agree upon? As noted previously, this should be the Gospel, but what about its methodology is commonly embraced? Again, maybe its Sunday school, but perhaps it’s reaching the community’s lower income families. It could be a ministry of adoption or homelessness. There are probably numerous ministries or interests within the church about which everyone is passionate. Find some and pour energy into them. The more of these you can identify and rally people around, the more unified the church will become. The key is you must work towards a common mission if there is any hope of bringing unity. 

Plan group activities

This can be an ice cream social or a ministry opportunity to one of the common issues, but it should be something which will involve people from both sides of the divide. It would be best if you could get someone from each faction to the planning table for these events. Most likely there are some who, though they have chosen a “side” to support, are mature enough they can work with someone of a different opinion to plan a function.

Celebrate success

There is something about celebrating which brings people together. Find small wins and celebrate them. Celebrate the things people can agree upon. Often this will be the history of the church or the heart the church has for missions or ministry.

Challenge the few objectors

There are usually a few people who are naturally divisive. This number is usually smaller than it appears, but these people are critical of everything and usually bring down the morale of others and the church. You may have to pull them aside, ask them to cooperate, and, if they will not, work to remove them from power. (This could obviously be the subject of another blog post, but a necessary part of creating unity.) The unity and vision of the church is more important than appeasing those whose only mission is to disrupt.

Embrace the influencers

Just as there are a few who are negative, there are usually a few who are positive about unity and who have influence over others. I believe in the “each one reach one” practice. Spend time with these influencers, help them understand the importance of unity, then encourage and release them to help shape an atmosphere and culture of unity, one person at a time. Keep these natural influencers and encouragers close and informed and empower them to help create unity.

Communicate effectively

Communication is always important, but especially during times of disunity. Information must flow freely and often. When people don’t have information, they assume you are keeping it from them intentionally. Keep people informed and they feel more like they are part of the team and the vision.

Obviously every situation is unique. Don’t be ashamed to seek outside help. Creating unity takes time, prayer and hard work. It often involves repentance for things said and done which caused the disunity. Keep in mind the process involves relationships, so it can be messy. Unity will likely involve people granting forgiveness and releasing the right to have things their way. Depending on the severity of the division in the church, these issues should certainly be shaping your teaching during this time. It may be subtle or more direct, but certainly deliberate.

Finally, for an illustration purpose, you might treat the process as you would if you were counseling a couple, only on a larger scale, of course. Identifying the underlying problems and offering small, steady steps to improving the relationships before you address the issues of division will help create unity.

20 Leadership Tips in Tweet Length

Colour pencils isolated on white background close up

A friend emailed me and asked for my “top 20 leadership tips”. They were doing a presentation on leadership and were asked to share 20 aspects of great leadership. The added catch – they wanted something short they could expand upon, so they suggested I share them in “Twitter length.”

It was like he didn’t know I’m the guy who only has “7” points in most posts?

I’m always up for a challenge though, so I wrote down the question and pondered it for a couple weeks. I added a few at a time. Then I sat down to compile the list.

Here are 20 leadership tips in Twitter length:

Build people – people are your greatest asset as a leader.

Believe in others – it’s the right thing to do and you can’t lead effectively otherwise.

Your life direction matters – you’ll likely end up where you point yourself and the team you lead.

Hold your methodology loosely – care more about accomplishing a worthy vision than how you do it.

Empower people – delegation is giving people real responsibility and real authority.

Keep learning – when you stop learning – you stop.

Renew your passion often – keep reminding yourself why you do what you do.

Learn to rest – so you can always do your best.

Value the word “No” – you can only do what you can do. Trying to do more lowers efficiency.

Prioritize each day – make every moment count – Because it does.

Let failure build you – not define you – it’s the best way to gain experience.

Be honest with yourself and others – what you hide will often trip you fastest.

Know your weaknesses – everyone else already does.

Listen more than you speak – you’ll learn more and others will feel valued.

Serving others always brings joy – giving back is the greatest vehicle to fulfillment in life.

Humility is attractive – people want to be around people who are. Applaud others louder than you “toot your own horn”.

Be intentional – nothing really great happens without intentionality.

Reject apathy – you’ll be tempted to settle for mediocrity. Don’t do it.

Communication is vital – people only know what they know. Same for you. Learn to ask good questions. 

Protect your character – even more than you try to protect your reputation. Do this and you’ll gain the other.

Feel free to Tweet one or two of them – they’re Twitter length.

Do you have one to share?

7 Things I Love About Serving in the Established Church

Bellfry of old Russian church against blue sky

I recently posted about the things I miss from church planting serving in an established church. Church planting can be daunting, but the rewards from seeing people far from God get excited about Him makes all the efforts worthwhile.

A friend of mine, Tom Cheyney, texted me with a challenge – and a needed one. Tom is one of the leading experts in the field of church revitalization. His Renovate Conference is the largest conference with a primary focus on revitalizing established churches.

Tom’s challenge – Ron, I enjoyed your article about what you missed about church planting Look forward to your follow up article about the local church!
Be blessed,
Tom

Touché! Good call, Tom. You’re right. I agree with you completely. I even wrote a post encouraging some who are considering planting to consider church revitalization.

There are some things I miss about church planting – some of those I even believe we could stand to see in the established church. But, there are also many opportunities and advantages to being in the established church, which is one reason I believe God has called me in this season of life into church revitalization.

So, here goes, Tom.

7 things I love about the established church:

Experienced servant leadership. One thing we were always scrambling to find in the church plant were people who had any experience leading within the church. It’s been refreshing to be back in an established church with leaders from multiple generations. Some of our lay leaders have more experience serving in the church than I have spent in my entire adult life. It should be noted we don’t always make the best use of this experience – which is one aspect of church revitalization – but, established churches often have good, capable leaders willing to help.

History to build upon. I love to find those high points in the life of a church – where everyone was excited – and renew the passion behind them. You can’t do this in a church plant. Everything is new. There’s a value in learning and building upon history. Some history will not need to be repeated, but most established churches have periods within their past where the church was vibrant, people were motivated, and God was clearly at work among them. If you can renew the excitement you can build upon these times.

Structure. I must be honest – I’m usually anti-structure. This is one of the attractions of the church plant. But, even then we had times where we knew we needed more structure. When I arrived back in an established church I quickly learned we knew structure well – perhaps a little too well. But, there are benefits, especially in the early days of revitalization. There were areas of the church I didn’t have to focus on because they were fully functioning without me. They may need improvement – at some point – but for the time they are working. In a church plant it sometimes seemed everything needed my attention as pastor.

Intergenerational. This happens some in a church plant – we had it some – but, it can happen more naturally in an established church. This is one area where the church must be intentional. It won’t simply happen, but we already had lots of seniors when we arrived. Since then we have found younger generations don’t shy away from a church because older generations are there. In fact, they like it. They want programs and ministries geared to their specific needs, but they love the intergenerational church. I tell our seniors – remember, grandparents are cool!

Resources. Whether it’s a building, or budget dollars, or people – established churches usually have more resources available than you will find in most church plants. When I arrived back at an established church my jaw was left hanging open the first six months just looking at the facilities we had available to us. There were budget concerns to those who had been there, but coming from a growing, budget-stretched church plant, I was so thankful to find the established church has established givers.

Community influence. Granted, the church may not be utilizing their influence to its potential, but if a church has been in the community for an extended period of time there are connections and built-up influence which can be leveraged to help the church grow. It’s been amazing to me the credibility with community leaders I found as a pastor of an established church, simply because our church has been here 100 plus years.

Restoration joy. There is something special about seeing new life in an older church. I’ve had the experience of seeing new growth in a church plant – twice. It’s awesome. But, seeing the established church thrive again – regaining momentum, restoring hope and potential to a church – there’s no way to describe the joy of knowing God allowed you a unique privilege of being a part of something special.

Thanks, Tom, for the challenge. Whether it’s church planting or encouraging church revitalization and growth of an existing church – if God calls you to it, and you are faithful to the call – you’ll feel His pleasure upon your obedience and service.

5 Ways I Breakout of My Introversion When Needed

Members Of Support Group Sitting In Chairs Having Meeting

I am frequently confused for an extrovert. On Sundays and other important days of ministry I can perform as an extrovert. I assure you, it’s not what comes natural for me.

I’m very much an introvert. I almost max out this preference on the Myers Briggs.

I’ve written extensively about introversion on this blog. You can read some of those posts in the suggested posts at the end of this one. But, my church often sees me look very much like an extrovert.

I don’t want to be fake – and I’m not trying to be. My church hears me say I’m an introvert. I’m not hiding the fact. But, I know my role calls for me to engage people.

As a result of my ability to appear extroverted, a question I receive frequently is: How do you do it? How do I appear so extroverted when I am so introverted?

Here are 5 ways I break away from my introversion to perform as an extrovert:

Love people. This sounds simple and may even sound trite, but I genuinely love people. I love connecting with people. I want to engage with others. Doing so doesn’t come natural to me, but it’s not because I don’t love first. In fact, I think it’s very hard to be a leader – and certainly not a pastor – unless you love people. (One of the biggest misunderstandings of introverts is when extroverts think we don’t love people. It’s not true for most of us.)

Be purposeful – Since I love people – and know connecting with them is a huge part of my position – I remind myself there is a reason to be extroverted in some occasions. Often people are waiting on me to engage them. To be a Kingdom-builder, I have to converse with others – even when it’s uncomfortable. The reason I am willing to act outside my comfort zone is I love people and value the connection with them more than I love my individual preference or comfort.

Prepare mentally – I have to prep myself before Sunday. I remind myself – I have a job to do, people are expecting me to engage with them, it’s not going to be easy, but I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. It’s a mental exercise before any event where I need to be outgoing. (And, some days I do better than others.) I also try to shut down on Saturday evening – planning few social events – and I plan to have adequate recovery time following an extremely extroverted event.

Discipline myself – At some point, I just do it. I simply have to make myself do what I may not at first want to do. Work the room. Make the initial approach for a new relationship. Talk! Engage! Connect! Do it! And, with practice it gets easier. It really does. I’m always glad when I do. (And, extroverts can understand this one – or maybe the whole post.)

Reward myself – After an extremely extroverted occasion I crash heartily. Sunday afternoon naps are the deepest sleeping I ever have. Plus, my family understands if I’m quieter than normal at Sunday lunch. Sometimes I go for a run. Sometimes I plan a walk with Cheryl. It’s my time to renew do I can do it again when needed.  

Okay, introverts, your turn. How do you breakout of your introversion when you need to do so?

Why I’d Prefer A Leader Say No Rather Than Say I Don’t Know

A young employee disagreeing and arguing with boss, feeling ashamed concept. A large hand pointing at businessman saying no

I’d almost always rather hear “No” than to hear “I don’t know”.

Don’t misunderstand. I love when a leader admits they don’t know something. I believe every leader has something to learn and should learn first from their team.

But, I have strong contentment against hearing “I don’t know” when the real answer has already been decided – and the answer is NO!

A coward says “I don’t know” when they already know their answer is no.

When you know the answer is no. Tell me no.

In my experience, weak leaders use phrases like:

“Let me think about it” – which really means I’m too scared right not to let you know how I really feel.

“We might consider this” – which really means we will never, ever consider this, but I feel better telling you we will rather than look you in the face with the real answer.

“Let me pray about that” – which really means I have no intention of praying at all, but I sound so much more spiritual when I act like I will.

“We’ll see” – which really means I’ve already “seen” and the future does not look promising for your idea.

“It could be an option down the road” – which really means it will be so far down the road neither of us will ever be here.

Afraid of potential conflict, weak leaders make you believe there’s a chance – even when they’ve already decided there is not a chance.

What’s the damage of saying “maybe” when the real answer is “no”?

  • Unanswered questions bring confusion to the team.
  • Energy is wasted dreaming about something that will never happen.
  • Disappointment is bigger when the person learns the real answer (Or never receives one).
  • The team loses confidence in the leader.

Is this you want, leader?

Strong leaders, even though they know “no” is not what you want to hear, tell you the truth up front. They eliminate the guesswork.

Hopefully if you follow this blog you know without me saying it the answer shouldn’t always be no. I’ve written numerous posts about how good leaders empower rather than control. In fact, I’d be in favor of letting people mistakes before I would be in favor of telling them no – even when I sense no is the right answer. We learn best from mistakes. If, however, you know you’ve made up your mind, stop me from guessing, stop building false hope, and tell me what you’re really thinking.

Leader, what door have you kept open even though you know you’ve already closed it?

Make the call. Do it now!