Dumbest things leaders do and how to rectify them!

Leaders make mistakes and do really dump/stupid things. What they do next after they realize what they have done makes all the difference. Here is Dan Rockwell with twelve dumb things leaders do and how to rectify those dumb things.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

Solving The 12 Dumbest Things Leaders Do

The most important thing you do happens after you do something dumb.

#1. Focusing on low performers while neglecting high performers.

Solution: Spend most of your development resources on “B” performers. Reward “A’s.” Develop “B’s.”

#2. Declaring conclusions. You’ve been mulling something over for a few days, then bam, you share your conclusion.

Solution: Engage people early and often. You’re going to explain yourself before or after you make a decision. 

#3. Getting lost in the weeds. A leader in the weeds ends up frantic, defeated, or both.

Solution: Reconnect with purpose and mission when frustration persists. Remember what you’re trying to accomplish. Take a small step forward.

#4. Forgetting you intimidate people because of your position or title.

Solution: Relax. Breathe. Smile. Maintain low tones.

#5. Believing all the good things people tell you.

Solution: Find the people who tell you the unvarnished truth and give them a raise.

#6. Giving feedback only when things go wrong.

Solution: Create feedback systems that are implemented regardless of outcome.

#7. Treating everyone the same. What inspires one, discourages another.

Solution: Learn the values of teammates. Use relational language with those committed to relationships, for example.

#8. Creating artificial urgency. 

Solution: Don’t pretend there’s an emergency in order to fuel energy. Remember people do things for their reasons not yours.

#9. Interrupting.

Solution: Shut-up if you tend to interrupt.

#10. Relying on email when things get heated.

Solution: Pick up the phone when things get hot. Better yet, show up in someone’s doorway.

#11. Allowing people to talk theory rather than action in meetings.

Solution: Ask, “Who does what by when,” over and over.

#12. Spending too much time talking about problems and not enough exploring options.

Solution: Say, “I hear what went wrong. What might we do about it?” After the first suggestion say, “What else,” two or three more times.

What are the top three dumb things leaders do? 

What might you add to the list by way of dumb things or solutions?



How healthy is your team?  Really?

Everyone who leads a team desires that team to be healthy and productive. Some teams, however, are in actuality dysfunctional and unproductive. Here are some key things to look for from Brad Lomenick to see how healthy your team really is.

Originally posted by Brad Lomenick

So why is your team dysfunctional?

Here are a few key indicators and signs of a dysfunctional team/organization. A team that needs to reimagine, re-engage, and recommit.

Look for these, and if they exist, be committed to change the culture.

1. Lack of communication- no one is talking, emailing, calling, texting, or dm'ing, unless they truly HAVE to, but never because they WANT to. 

2. Lack of empowering. Power is being held at the top, and not being passed down to leaders throughout the organization. 

3. No one values each other. Everyone has quickly shifted towards "individual survival" and only thinking about themselves and how they can personally win. 

4. Vacations are not possible because the urgency is constant and contagious, like a bad virus. 

5. Everything is last minute, and everything is late. Nothing goes out on time, or gets scheduled on time.

6. Silos exist everywhere. Cliques and gossip is rampant.

7. The work and environment is mundane. It's boring.

8. Entitlement has taken over.

9. Lack of a clear mission, vision and core values. When asked where the team is headed, everyone has a different answer. 

10. There is no accountability. People on your team just feel like they can do whatever they want, whenever they want. This will drive your best team members crazy.

11. Everyone is moving offices, just to have something to actually feel good about. 

12. Most of the team is spending more time on Linkedin and Facebook compared to improving the product or service your organization offers. 

13. Updating your resume is a requirement, because you just never know. 

14. Regular staff meetings keep getting cancelled. 

15. Key people are spending more time on new head shots for the website update, compared to working on or in the business. 

16. There is a tremendous loss of reality. No one can or is willing to confront the brutal facts.

17. Lots of hype and very little true hope exists. Celebrations and "atta boys" are being passed out for meaningless tasks getting done, which further frustrates the best players on the team. 

18. More energy in scheduling lunches than in bringing in new revenue. 

19. No one knows where anyone is; you can't find anyone. 

20. Blame is getting passed from person to person, from team to team, and from silo to silo, and ultimately lands nowhere. 

21. The only voices that end up being heard are the loudest and the most annoying, like a clanky wheel on a shopping cart. 

22. Everyone is cordial but behind closed doors there is deep distrust. 

23. The buck stops here doesn't exist. No one is ultimately responsible. The responsibility tree has been chopped and split up so many times you can't really figure out who is driving what and who has responsibility for what.

24. Meetings have no focus, and most meetings end up in a longer than needed conversation about things like toilet paper, dishwasher rules, and the upcoming Christmas party, all the while pondering theoretical questions with no goal in mind. 

25. Key people are leaving. The "A" players can see the writing on the wall, and usually get out way before things become bad.

26. Decision making has left the building, at every level. The lack of decisiveness is stifling, frustrating, and confusing, leading to increased lack of clarity and a strong desire for someone to take charge. 



Teachability, The Prince Of Character Traits

I love lists. I love articles and blog posts that include lists of one thing and another. The Bible is big on lists. There are lists of things to avoid, list of things to do and lists of leadership qualities (I Timothy 3; Titus 1 and I Peter 5.) There are lists concerning the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) and lists of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

I love lists of ideas, attributes, warnings and commands as they help me know what God’s desires are for me and how he would have me live my life--both as a follower and as a leader. As I am led by him, empowered by Him and seek to honor him, I want to pay attention to what is in all these lists, so I can trust the Holy Spirit for ongoing personal transformation.

I have been a Christian for 53 years and in vocational Christian ministry for 45 years. I have given a great deal of thought to what is on all the lists in the Bible where the Lord expresses his desires for us.

There is one indispensable quality that I would put at the top of all of the lists when it comes to leaders.

That one indispensable quality is being teachable

Having the mind-set of a life-long learner…being open to learn from anyone at anytime on any topic. With His help, being teachable sets us up for growing in all the other areas of our walk with the Lord.

I have met very old Christians who are still teachable and I have met very young Christians who are not. I have met some very humble leaders and I have met some very arrogant leaders who have a hard time listening to anyone but himself or herself!

I remember shortly after I was married, I was starting to memorize Proverbs 13:10 in the King James, “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.” Due to my poor handwriting, my wife, Susan, thought the P was a B and asked why the Bible would say only by “bride” cometh contention. We both had a good laugh.

Here is Proverbs 13:10 in the ESV: “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.

Wisdom, from God’s perspective, lies in knowing how to take advice.

If there is one book in the Bible that majors in teachability, it would be the book of Proverbs.

Here are two of my favorites verses on being teachable from Proverbs:

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (Proverbs 18:2 ESV)

“And you say, how I hated discipline and my heart despised reproof! I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to instructors.” (Proverb 5:12,13 ESV)

When I’m thinking of investing in a potential leader, having a teachable spirit is the number one quality I’m looking for. When I see a true hunger to learn and grow and a genuine humility that is willing to be taught, confronted or corrected, there is no limit to what that leader can learn or how much influence that leader can have for the kingdom.

I have met a few leaders who wanted to learn, but didn’t want to be taught. They wanted to learn on their own and were not really open to having anyone else speak into their lives. It’s sad, to say the least.

If a leader is not teachable he/she won’t continue to hear from God (and others) and continue to grow and mature into the kind of follower and leader God desires.

This unteachable leader will eventually fall into other sins and disqualify him/herself. If a person is truly teachable, God can get through to each leader on every other issue or sin.

If the leader is truly teachable, then other people will have permission and freedom to speak into his/her life and which will lead to more growth, which honors Jesus.

Warren Myers was one of my early coaches who went to be with Jesus at the age of 78. Warren had spent his life studying the Bible and knew it and lived it better than any man I have ever known. He was not perfect by any means, but when it was clear he had sinned, he was quick to own it and ask for forgiveness from the lord and from anyone he had sinned against. 

We connected just a few months before he went to be with Jesus. We were having lunch together in Colorado Springs. He asked me (he always asked lots of questions) what Jesus had been recently making clear to me. As I began to share he took notes on what I was saying for his own personal growth. I couldn’t believe it…at 78, still growing, still learning--even from one of his disciples.

Are you truly teachable? Can you be confronted without bristling or making excuses for yourself? Do you ask questions when you are with others or are you quick to tell everyone your opinion on the topic at hand? Are you reading books that facilitate your ongoing maturity and influence for the kingdom?

In short, are you growing in “The Indispensable Quality Every Leader Needs to Possess?”

I met a career missionary at LAX and drove him to his destination.  He had been working on a list of characteristics to look for in potential missionary candidates for his organization. He read his list to me asking what I thought.  I told him that all of the qualities were excellent, but I felt there was one that was missing.  He didn’t have being teachable on his life.  He quickly added it.

Recently I watched a 30-second video clip from a leader on what he thought was a leader’s greatest fault.

Following that clip, and for several weeks running, various leaders from around the country would be weighing in on what, in their opinion, would be a leader’s greatest fault.

What do you think a leader’s greatest fault would be?

Would it be:

  1. Insecurity?
  2. Pride?
  3. Sexual impurity?
  4. Ministry idolatry?
  5. Financial mismanagement?
  6. Lack of honesty/integrity?

After many years of thinking and praying about this, my answer would be:

Not being teachable!

The same trait I mentioned to the career missionary. Maybe it’s true that some things never change.

Dave, you can’t be serious in saying that teachability is more important than all other leadership qualities and traits?

Yes I am. 

If a leader is walking with Jesus but is not teachable he/she won’t continue to hear from God (and others) and continue to grow and mature.

This unteachable leader will eventually fall into other sins and disqualify him/herself. If a person is truly teachable, God can get through to them on every other issue or sin. If the leader is truly teachable, then other people will have permission and freedom to speak into his/her life.

How would you recognize a truly teachable leader?

I believe the answer is simple. He/she is asking more questions than giving more answers. He/she is listening more than talking. It’s not by accident that we have two ears and one mouth. The leader learns more and the follower grows in confidence by digging deeper to answer insightful questions. 

One of the signs of a truly great leader is that he/she is not only continuing to learn and grow personally but helping others grow by encouraging them to think deeply and respond to well thought-through questions. It takes more work to come up with good questions rather than to give our good opinions on someone else’s question.

A reading through the gospels is revealing when looking at all the questions Jesus asked. He was always trying to help his disciples by asking insightful questions. If you are truly in possession of the prince of charter traits, you will be asking more questions of everyone, thereby demonstrating that you truly are a life-long learner.







Nehemiah and author John Kotter from Harvard

Most of you know that I recently published my 3rd book, “Learning Leadership From Nehemiah” which is available on Amazon.

Do get a copy and encourage others to get it, read it and apply it in their ministry contexts!

Learning Leadership From Nehemiah

I mention in the book that Nehemiah never read John Kotter’s book, “Leading Change” but implemented his dream using Kotter’s concepts.

Here Eric Geiger shows how Nehemiah builds on Kotter’s eight-fold process for introducing change.

Originally posted by Eric Geiger

Perhaps the most definitive business book on leading an organization to change is John Kotter’s book Leading Change. When ministry leaders speak or write about leadership, they often look to the wisdom found in the Book of Nehemiah, as it chronicles Nehemiah’s leadership in rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah led wide-scale change.

Nehemiah never read Kotter’s book, and he led well without it. The Lord well equipped Nehemiah for the task of leading God’s people. But it is fascinating to see how Nehemiah’s actions mirror much of what Kotter has observed in leaders who successfully lead change. Here are the eight steps for leading change, according to Kotter, and how one can see them in Nehemiah’s leadership.

1.  Establish a sense of urgency.

Leaders must create dissatisfaction with an ineffective status quo. They must help others develop a sense of angst over the brokenness around them. Nehemiah heard a negative report from Jerusalem, and it crushed him to the point of weeping, fasting, and prayer (Nehemiah 1:3-4). Sadly, the horrible situation in Jerusalem had become the status quo. The disgrace did not bother the people in the same way that it frustrated Nehemiah. After he arrived in Jerusalem, he walked around and observed the destruction. Before he launched the vision of rebuilding the wall, Nehemiah pointed out to the people that they were in trouble and ruins (2:17). He started with urgency, not vision. Kotter has counseled leaders that without urgency, vision and strategy do not work.

2.  Form a guiding coalition.

Effectively leading change requires a community of people, a group aligned on mission and values and committed to the future of the organization. Nehemiah enlisted the wisdom and help of others. He invited others to participate in leading the effort to rebuild the wall (2:17).

3.  Develop a vision and strategy.

Vision attracts people and drives action. Without owning and articulating a compelling vision for the future, leaders are not leading. The vision Nehemiah articulated to the people was simple and compelling: “Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace” (2:17). Nehemiah wisely rooted the action (building the wall) with visionary language (“We are the people of God and should not be in disgrace.”)

4.  Communicate the vision.

Possessing a vision for change is not sufficient; the vision must be communicated effectively. Without great communication, a vision is a mere dream. Nehemiah communicated the vision personally through behavior and to others through his words. Besides his communication, Nehemiah embodied the vision. His commitment to it was clear to all. He traveled many miles and risked much to be in Jerusalem instigating change. He continued to press on toward the completion of the vision despite ridicule (6:3). Vision is stifled when the leader preaches something different than he lives. Kotter is right—“Behavior from important people that is inconsistent with the vision overwhelms other forms of communication.”

5.  Empower others to act.

Leaders seek to empower others and deploy them for action. They seek to remove obstacles that hamper action that is in line with the vision. The rebuilding of the wall was a monumental task that took many people; therefore, it required broadening the base of those committed to the vision. Nehemiah involved many people in the project. He placed people in areas about which they were passionate. For example, several worked on the wall in front of their homes (3:23), likely most burdened for that particular area of the wall.

6.  Generate short-term wins.

Change theorist William Bridges stated, “Quick successes reassure the believers, convince the doubters, and confound the critics.” So a leader is wise to secure some early wins to leverage momentum. Nehemiah and those rebuilding the wall faced immediate and constant ridicule and opposition; therefore, it was necessary for Nehemiah to utilize short-term wins to maintain momentum. After the initial wave of criticism, Nehemiah noted that the wall was halfway complete (4:6). The reality of the progress created enough energy to overcome the onslaught of negativity.

7.  Consolidate improvements and produce more change.

Effective change gives leaders freedom and credibility for more change. The reconstruction of the wall was one aspect of the change that Nehemiah implemented. The overriding problem was the disgrace and destruction of the people. After their return from exile, the people did not initially reinstate the worship of God and observance of the law. Furthermore, there were numerous social injustices that were tolerated and led by the officials and nobles. The completion of the wall was, in itself, a huge short-term win. It only took 52 days to complete, but its impact was enormous, as surrounding nations knew it was “accomplished by our God” (6:15-16). The success of the reconstruction allowed Nehemiah to lead bolder changes under the banner of eliminating the disgrace and destruction of the people.

8.  Anchor new approaches in the culture.

Leaders do not create a new culture in order to make changes; instead, they make changes to create a new culture. Kotter stated: “Culture is not something you manipulate easily. Culture changes only after people’s actions have been changed.” Nehemiah inherited a culture of mediocrity, indifference, and oppression. The walls were in ruin, which made the people susceptible to attack at any time. The people were out of fellowship with God. They had lost their sense of identity as God’s chosen people. Nehemiah altered the culture of the people by changing the behavior of the people. Every change led to the realization by the people that they were God’s possession, that God was their protector and strength. Every aspect of the change movement was integrated into the unified whole of being the people of God.

Leadership is often about change. And change is never easy. Without urgency, a community of committed people, and a compelling direction, change initiatives are doomed to fail.



Four traits outstanding leaders have in common

Leadership is on a lot of lips and minds today.  Christian organizations are constantly on the hunt for gifted, called and anointed leaders, but few know how to actually identify, recruit and develop the leaders they need and want.

Experience has taught me that it is much easier for someone to want to be known as a leader than to actually be a leader--an exceptional leader. We already have enough mediocre and/or average leaders.

I have been studying and practicing leadership for over forty years.  I continue to grow in both leading and learning how to lead better. I read all I can on the subject. I’m not what I want to be or what I will be, but at least I’m not what I was…even last year. By God’s grace I’m still a life-long learner…trusting Jesus to be excellent in how I lead others.

What does excellent leadership really look like? How would you personally define excellent leadership? What qualities are high on your list?

To get the ball rolling on what excellent, stellar and exceptional leadership looks like, here are four attributes that have been on my mind lately. This is not meant to be exhaustive…just a few I have been thinking and praying about.

1.  Honesty:

Telling the truth at all times and at all costs. Being a person who says what he means and means what he says…consistency between what is said and what is done. (See Psalm 15:4B)

2.  Follow-through:

Sees things through to completion. Doesn’t make promises that aren’t kept. Takes responsibility seriously; doesn’t intentionally or lazily let things fall through the cracks. Owns sin and mistakes without playing the blame game.

3.  Courage:

Makes the tough calls and confronts when necessary. Decides when it’s as clear as it’s ever going to be without trying to keep everybody happy or being afraid to make a mistake. Show me a leader who never made a mistake and I’ll show you a leader who never “made” anything

4.  Caring:

Genuinely cares. Affirms and encourages the people being led. Not in it for personal gain or accolades (See I Peter 5:1-3). Leadership is not about the leader, but about Jesus and those He has entrusted to the leader.

In my opinion, excellent leadership would include ALL FOUR of these. What do you think? Please add a few at the top of your list that would separate an average leader from an exceptional leader.