Weak Leaders

And the Relationship to Weak Followers

Weak Leaders

Weak leaders naturally attract weak followers. That is my hypothesis. I am not sure if there has ever been an academic or scientific study to prove that hypothesis or not. But, it is clearly an observation that I have made over many years of observational study.

Why do you suppose that would be the case? And who is really attracted to who? Is it really that it is the weak leader that is attracted to weak followers?

My fear is that it may in reality be the weak leader that is attracted to weak followers. For it is in that setting that they can operate without much fear of any challenges to their leadership or true accountability for their actions.

I have not yet met a leader who would admit to being a weak leader. Often they will admit that they are not as strong as they would like to be. But they usually don’t admit to their weakness in this area.

According to Les McKeown of Inc. Magazine, “The problem comes when a weak leader masquerades as a strong leader. Outwardly, they appear effective, dependable, on top of things. But look closely at what they believe to be strong leadership and what you see is, in fact, a set of dangerous, destructive behaviors. Behaviors which will eventually strangle the organization.”

McKeown goes on to provide some typical behaviors of weak (or in his words, “ineffective”) leaders. I will not elaborate or comment on all of them. But I would offer my thoughts on how weak leaders interact with their followers.

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What Sharpens Iron?

What sharpens iron?

What sharpens iron? Every leadership “junkie” has probably been exposed to the Biblical passage from Proverbs that gives us the answer to that very question.

It is iron that sharpens iron. Or at least it is some other substance that is as hard as iron such as a whetstone or grinding wheel. If that is the case, that iron sharpens iron, then what are the implications for you and I as leaders?

We often only look at ourselves as the ones that will be doing the sharpening. But what (or who) is sharpening you? We need to constantly be in contact with something or someone who sharpens our leadership skills.

The first time I was exposed to this concept was many years ago in 1990 when Steven Covey published The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. “Sharpen your saw” is Habit #7. This habit was encouraged so that we take care of ourselves on physical, mental and emotional levels. Only then would we have the “strength” to remain highly effective.

Only the confident and strong leaders will offer themselves to be sharpened by others. In fact,

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Overlooking “Capability”  for “Like-ability” 

Capable - Likeable

One of the biggest problem that I see in many organizations is our willingness to overlook “capability” for “like-ability.”

What does that mean?

It means that many times we are more interested in whether or not our leader is “like-able” and less interested in whether or not they are actually capable of exhibiting and demonstrating leadership.  This can have tragic affects

This phenomenon is not as common in the commercial world.  The business world often cares much more about whether or not you can do the job than whether or not you can be a leader.  There is not often much thought given to how the rest of the employees “feel” about the boss or the leader.

Here is where we see leaders who have progressed through the ranks of an organization and have reached a leadership level through hard work, dedication and a proven track record of success.  They have been mentored by other leaders who have proven track records of success.  They sometimes just aren’t that like-able.  And they often don’t particularly care if they are liked.

To back that premise up, research shows that average Emotional Intelligence scores plummet higher up the corporate ladder beyond the supervisor level. The theory is that people get promoted based upon results, even if their people skills are lacking. As leadership coaches, folks like me are working desperately to change that. But the phenomenon remains.

And I suppose all of this begs a few questions:

  1. Would a leader rather be liked or trusted?
  2. Would a leader rather be popular or right?
  3. Would a leader rather be successful or loved?
  4. Is “like-ability” even something that a leader should be concerned about?

There are so many angles that this thought process could take.

What if . . .

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Restoring a Fallen Leader

Fallen Tree

I set out doing discovery for this piece because it is near and dear to my heart. I won’t go into specifics here, but I have fallen. I have let my arrogance and need for pleasure and approval get the best of me.

I want anyone who reads this to know that I have started on a journey to restoration, and I find the steps there through whatever they will be to be getting easier. What I mean by that is the hard part was admitting you sinned and asking for forgiveness.

Now I don’t necessarily count myself among the leaders right now, and to be honest I am not sure how to feel about myself. However what I find most interesting about my situation and how I feel about my situation is I am being much harder on myself than the people I am accountable too. I guess what I am trying to say is, my discipline is not a punishment by others but the voluntary acceptance of God’s forgiveness.

I know that sounds like an odd statement, but lets think about forgiveness for a minute.

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What in the World?

isis-ferguson

 

Who do you trust?  Who do you believe anymore?

Ebola has come to the United States of America. Our President, the leader of the free world said it would not. He was wrong. Maybe the open border policy is not a good one.

The Center for Disease Control says we should not panic and this is an isolated case. This new plague can be easily contained and there is no issue. Nothing to see here.  Purchase your Starbucks and watch your Netflix.  Just remember to wash your hands.  Maybe this disease is weapon-ized and we should be wondering what religion Patient Zero subscribes.

Okay, let’s calm down for a moment. 

My point — A track record of double speak, political correctness, and failed leadership breeds distrust and hostility towards authority.

As a leader of a small team, project or a free republic, our words have consequences. Our credibility can shape the morale and effectiveness of our team or the direction of a nation.

It started with- “You like your healthcare…you can keep it.” To “Read my lips…No new taxes.” Don’t forget — “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”

What we are witnessing today in our country and communities is failed leadership.  From the top down in every aspect of execution…this crosses political and ideological lines.

I will never be on television managing a crisis but as a leader in my home, my church, my job, and my marriage I can subscribe to the following:

Be slow to speak and quick to listen.

Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Be truthful.

Just my two cents.  Excuse me.  I’m going to wash my hands.

Manday: Two Men in the Lion’s Pit-Part Two

benaiah

The pursuit of Biblical Manhood can be very elusive.  It can be like trying to excel at all the gifts of the Spirit.  Pile on top of that leadership imploring that you need accountability and mentoring just to survive until next Sunday.  Every proclivity is treated as an addiction and a week of spiritual rehab and repentance is needed, again, just to survive until next Sunday.  As being a Heralder of Men’s Accountability, I have had to take a deep breathe and try to simplify this whole process.

The Bible paints an amazing picture of accountability with the example of two men on a roof.  Recall King David alone on a roof when he should have been leading troops to war.  Instead, he lusted after a woman, slept with her, murdered her husband, and then tried to cover it up.  Another man lying on a mat, paralyzed, is carried onto a roof by four friends and lowered through the same roof to be healed by Jesus.  Amazing opposites.  Imagine how King David’s tale would have been different if he had four men advising him to be at war instead alone drooling over bathing women.  An amazing portrait of accountability.

I scoured the Bible to locate a portrayal similar to the two men on a roof that portrayed an example of Biblical manhood.  Over the years, I have noticed two camps in the church-a ‘gentle’ man and a ‘rough’ man.  I’ve heard the Jacob and Esau example used and it did not sit well with me because God loathed Esau.  Still I believe there are two kinds of men. Those that run toward danger and those that stay back and fortify the front. Both are needed and both fill our pews of our churches today. One is not better than the other.  God’s Word gives two examples of two different men that God chose to write about.  Both warriors entered a lion’s pit and lived to tell about it.

Many have heard about Daniel in the Lion’s Den.  Daniel was a slave so favored by King Darius he was chosen to govern the government. Details mattered to him. He was submissive to the authority he was under but he obeyed God’s law.  Daniel never lifted a spear or took a human life. But…Daniel was a prayer warrior on his knees.  He abided in God’s laws, not eating the Babylonian food, and choosing to pray despite a law forbidding him.  Daniel was thrown in to lion’s den as punishment for breaking that law but God protected him.  God shut the lions mouth shut and Daniel survived a night in a lion’s pit.

The other example is Benaiah.  In scripture, we read of a valiant warrior turning the tables and chasing a lion into a pit, and, then killing the large feline.  This man is different from Daniel but needed.  This man runs towards gunfire.  He is a warrior in a different manner.  He is a man of action with his physical nature.  He is a man that seizes opportunity. His hands are calloused and a hard days work for him is the soreness in his muscles.  This man is needed as a warrior.  And our pews are filled with this type of man.  He is a risk taker.  Ironically, he was King David’s head of Security.  Do you not think he knew David was on a roof by himself.  Hmmmm.

So which man are you?  Are you Benaiah or Daniel?

I think all of us have a traits of each.  As I posted last week-I am no gentleman.  You will tolerate a man like me because you sleep better at night knowing I hunt the lions you believe don’t exist.  My life resonates with Benaiah’s.  I hunt those lions.  But when I find myself surrounded or thrown into a lion pit will I have lived my life like Daniel to be spared the tearing of my spirit?

Simplified?  Maybe.  I just prefer these two men as examples of Biblical Manhood instead of Jacob and Esau.

 

 

Manday: The Lions That Don’t Exist Part One

lion

On February 23, 2013, I posted an article about two men on a roof as part of my accountability series on Manday. To this day, I have been looking for ways to follow that up and continue my series on Manhood.  It has been a long journey since then.  It is no secret that at Leadership Voices there are different kinds of men that post to this website.  We come from different walks of life.  Some subscribe to the gentleman theory and some subscribe to the “kick in the door first-ask questions later” theory.  We stubbornly subscribe to these theories to a fault.  But ironically, we are great friends. And we are an encouragement to each other.

I am no gentleman.  You will tolerate a man like me because you sleep better at night knowing I hunt the lions you believe don’t exist.

I spent the past month in a class being taught how to investigate crimes against children.  The mental images that are imprinted in my memory still haunt me.  The Bible says Satan prowls like a “lion seeking who he may devour”. There are lions out there seeking to devour you, your wife, your finances, your job, and your health.  And if the lion claws, roar, and teeth can’t phase you and penetrate your comfort zone…it will hunt, seek, and destroy your children.

Lions don’t lick their prey to death.  Lions tear the flesh, break bones, then suck the marrow and life out of their prey.  Then they lick the sinews and blood off their fur.  They are happy like a child with ice cream all over their face.  But it’s not ice cream.  And it’s not a child.  It is a vicious animal who tears at its prey until it can be devoured.  Are you getting the picture?

Christians in Roman times were very familiar with this tragic portrait.  They were often thrown to the lions as halftime entertainment in the Coliseums between Gladiator battles.  So when Peter wrote that Satan is like a prowling lion; that imagery resonated with the early persecuted Christians.  Today, we don’t see the lions or we swat them away thinking they are an inconvenience and can be easily scheduled out of our lives.  Or we just change geography and the lions don’t exist anymore.

Lions don’t exist because we move to the suburbs.  We live in gated communities.  We can watch our property on our cell phones.  We have alarms on our houses and vehicle.  We can locate our children through GPS.  Even our motor vehicles will stop on a dime if we aren’t paying attention to the road in front of us.  If I live my life clean…I won’t see any hardship.  This clean Christian living is easy.

As leaders and men to your family, I caution you as Peter did to be alert and sober.  Always mindful, that you are a target for the enemy.  Be mindful of the lions outside your tent.  Be sober and alert.

(BTW-have you ever kicked in a door…it is an awesome feeling!)

Ignorance is Bliss – Except in Leadership

Ignorance in Leadership - 1I don’t know very many folks who don’t know the cliché, “Ignorance is bliss.” But I am wondering today just how many know where where the phrase comes. It comes from a poem written in 1742 by Thomas Gray. The phrase is in the closing lines to his poem entitled, “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.” And the full sentence is:

Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.

There are many thoughts as to Gray’s purpose for ending his poem with such words. In those final lines he may be expressing thoughts on returning to his old school and there remembering the simplicity and innocence of his youth. It also appears that he is joining two worlds together in this line of the poem. He is joining a world that has not grown up yet with one that has. In a sense it is a world that shaped him into a man and perhaps, as with many, has beaten out those innocent aspirations of early life.

The modern day interpretation of the lines in the poem and the implications of the cliché are significant if examined in the light of leadership principles. The implications can be summed up in these two statements:

  1. You are more comfortable if you don’t know something.
  2. Lack of knowledge results in happiness.

Statement number one is pretty bad. I am never comfortable in the state of lack of knowledge. In fact it scares me and motivates me to seek after knowledge and understanding. Statement number 2 is downright ridiculous. Happiness is not a state of intellectual ascent. Rather, happiness is a conscious decision to maintain a positive and joyous outlook on life regardless of the circumstances.

So, what is the leadership principle here?

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Leadership and Self-Control

Self-Control - 1For the past few months I have been kind of “looking inward” at myself. You know having some of those internal discussions with yourself, lying in bed at night, or on your drive to or from the office. I have been thinking a lot about my family, my past and what our future may hold. During one of these discussions with myself, I started thinking about my flaws, yes friends; believe it or not I have flaws. I know that may come as a shock to a few of you that know me, but it is true. The flaw I struggle with the most is self-control.

Now I wanted to discuss this because I think it is the most detrimental flaw for a leader to have because I think there is some “trickle-down effect” to their followers. In this case I refer especially to our families. What I have begun to realize is my lack of self-control has begun to rub off on my wife and kids. So maybe what I have done here is discovered a Leadership series that should be called Leadership Behaviors, hopefully Kevin won’t read this and ask me to do that.

The more I think about this the more interested in discovering a solution so I thought I would go dig around on the old “inner web thing” and see what others thought. What I found is it must be a pretty common problem and here are what I am going to call the “Four Cs” of learning self control, tell me what you think.

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REPOST: Accountability: Two Men on a Roof

man-on-roof

Don Munton is the Singles Minister at Houston’s First Baptist Church. He is a mentor-pastor-friend of mine. Don shares an amazing story with the young single men under his leadership about accountability. He would always preface the story by telling them that a man alone is a man in the danger zone. (Insert images of Maverick and Goose slicing through the skies in an F14.)

Don would tell the story of two men on a roof from two opposite sides of the Bible. In 2 Samuel, we are told the first man was a king. He should have been taking care of kingly duties, like waging a war from the front lines, but instead he was on his roof overlooking his kingdom. Lo and behold, he spots a beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop and he can’t control himself. (In today’s terms, he was browsing the web and stumbled onto a site he could not resist.) He orders the woman to his bed and takes her. (He takes an ad out on Craig’s List and she responds.) Because of this man’s lack of accountability and pride, a husband is murdered, a child dies, a scandal ensues, and a kingdom is almost forfeit.

Fast forward to Mark Chapter 2, we see a paralyzed man being carried by four men to Jesus to be healed. Unfortunately, the crowds around Jesus don’t allow the men to get to the front door. So they carry their paralyzed friend to the roof of the house and begin tearing open the roof to lower their friend to Jesus. (Imagine being in the house and bits and pieces of the ceiling begin falling on you and then a man is lowered on a cot down towards your honored guest. You look up and think-Someone is paying for that.) Jesus heals the man. Now that man could not have gotten to Jesus without the help of his four friends. He could not have gotten on the roof without their aid.

Now look at the two men. One man was alone…a king…an island onto himself…somewhere he should not have been. And he failed. A momentary lapse in judgment. Where was his support group? Where were the men that would tell him that he needed to be at war and not at home alone on a rooftop?

The paralyzed man is helpless. He was not alone. No delusions of self-sufficiency. The man couldn’t care for himself without the help of others. He gets healed. But let’s look at the faith of his friends. The four men had to carry their buddy through the crowd. They probably had to carry him several blocks out of the way to get to Jesus, climb to a roof, traverse several rooftops, and then tear away a roof knowing Jesus would heal their friend. At any point, the crippled man may have said: “Stop! It’s too much trouble. I’m fine.” I have carried a grown man on a cot over three miles. It is not an easy task. But the men persevered; they may have even encouraged each other. What an amazing story of friendship and accountability.

Now I don’t have to tell you all the ways men can get into trouble today. We have enough talking heads telling us how bad we men are. So I won’t laundry list you into submission and guilt. You know the list and the proclivities we as men are inclined towards. So that is why it is so important to have life-minded men in your life to keep you accountable and tell you what you need to hear when you stray and encourage you when you stay true.

Do you have any friend who would carry you toward the Savior when you need Him the most?

Do you have a group of men who struggle and endure with you in your good and bad times?

Or would they allow you to be alone and handle it on your own? Could you be a friend like that to someone?

Find those men. Your life depends on it.