Don’t Be That Guy

I love studying leadership books and learning from the lives of great men and women of history. The leadership section of my library is only slightly larger than the biography section. One of the saddest things to see is a leader who self-destructs. I was just reviewing some of my notes about leadership failures when Tim Elmore’s latest e-newsletter arrived entitled Self-Destructive Leaders.

Check out a couple of blurbs from this excellent article:

Projecting their self-worth.
There are few things more unappetizing than a leader who has to constantly talk about how important they are. They name drop, they remind others of their busyness, accomplishments, authority, past positions, degrees, or pedigree. It’s like they’re lobbying for attention and affirmation. It’s a sad commentary when so much of a leader’s energy is spent doing this instead of helping their team reach their goals.

Possessing a controlling spirit.
Often, insecure leaders react to their inward desperation with control. They feel if they can control people, they’ll maintain absolute authority. … They resort to more regulations and policies to enforce compliance among staff instead of trusting them and earning their loyalty….

Comparing themselves to others obsessively.
When a leader has a low EQ [emotional intelligence quotient], they naturally tend to look around them; they look outward rather than inward (at their own natural strengths and style) or upward (to their Creator for their sense of identity).  They become consumed with comparing their own traits or achievements to those of other leaders. Soon, their team ceases to operate in a healthy way. They’re driven by comparing and competing with others instead of capitalizing on their own core competencies.

Possessing self-imposed blindness.
This one is huge. All leaders have blind spots. Like in a car, blind spots happen not so much because of stupidity but position. The driver can’t see certain things. Sadly, self-destructive leaders refuse help. They repel any input from colleagues and insist on living in a bubble that makes them feel good. All is well, or so they think. Their insecurity won’t let them face the facts. They prefer a perspective that’s limited, but comfortable. Their narrow view will eventually lead to an accident.

Here’s what wise King Solomon said about the self-destructive leader:

Arrogant know-it-alls stir up discord, but wise men and women listen to each other’s counsel. (Proverbs 13:10)

If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored. (Proverbs 13:18)

The saddest part is this – the self-destructive leader will read this and then say to himself, “Nope, that’s not me. This is describing someone else.”

Don’t be that guy (or gal)!

  • Look in the mirror of Scripture.
  • Listen to the counsel of others.
  • Listen to the criticism of your teammates. (Hint: if your teammates aren’t telling you anything that you need to improve on, it’s not because you’re perfect. Either you have intimidated them into silence, or you’re deaf to what they’re telling you.)
  • Learn from the lives of great leaders from the past. Read their biographies and autobiographies.
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