Leadership is more art than science. That means it grows through practice and willingness to learn from your mistakes. Your effectiveness and success as a leader gets compromised when you fall into unhealthy “traps” of thinking and acting. Here are just five traps I’ve seen and experienced time and time again. If any of these sound like you, don’t be discouraged; It happens to every leader at different situations in life, from the young and aspiring to the seasoned expert- you just get better at overcoming.
The Comparison Trap
Great leaders around us should inspire and drive us, but paying too much attention to others’ success has crippled many otherwise gifted people. God calls individual leaders to a specific place and time. Your leadership will be unique. So even if you could do everything exactly like that other person, it’s unlikely God is calling you to. Maybe your measurement of success is very different than someone else. Keep your eye on your goals, not that other guy’s.
The Celebrity Trap
A leader without any critics probably means they aren’t moving people beyond their zone of comfort. That’s not a leader – that’s a manager. Being a celebrity is also different than being likable- celebrities have an aura of being “untouchable” and not relatable. It is a superficial and image-driven leadership. The opposite is the “Servant Leader.” Become intimate with the struggles and issues of those you serve.
The Loner Trap
Many leaders get the bad idea that they can’t be successful unless they go at it alone. Leadership can be lonely at times, but leadership is not done in isolation. Jesus spent time alone in prayer, but gave real responsibility to carry out his mission to his disciples. The best church leaders know how to surround themselves with gifted people who will bring out the best in one another and the good of the Church. For us imperfect people, we need accountability to sharpen our character and integrity.
The Control Trap
Not only is an overly controlled and managed approach completely ineffective, it’s also selfish. It is not God’s way of equipping his people for the mission. Leadership is less about control and more about positive influence. Influence empowers others with the skills and motivation to meet challenges and solve problems themselves, not become dependent on you.
The Superhero Trap
Related to the Control Trap is the Superhero trap. It’s not so much micromanaging others’ tasks as just trying to do everything yourself. The danger isn’t just an inflated ego. When people see how well you accomplish everything, they will expect more and more of you, and less and less of themselves. It’s the perfect path to self-destruction. A superhero’s greatest enemy is always themself. Know your limits; give yourself margin.
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