Things leaders do that drive followers crazy

When I was young and my dad was leaving to go somewhere, we would ask him where he was going and he would say that he was going crazy and asked us if we wanted to go with him. He was kidding of course, but there are something leaders do that drive followers “Crazy.”

Here are four of them shared by Dan Rockwell

Originally posted by

Dan Rockwell


We love to think about what drives leaders crazy.

But, what about employees?

1. Red tape. The reason red tape drives employees crazy is they want to get things done.

  1. The function of management is to make it easier, not more difficult, to achieve results.
  2. Call, “Why are we doing things this way” meetings with front-line employees and mid-level managers. You might try adding, “What policy or procedure could we simplify or eliminate,” to the next agenda.
  3. Run interference for your team.

2. Attending irrelevant or poorly run meetings.

  1. Call meetings when human connection and interaction are necessary.
  2. Use video conferencing if the purpose of the meeting is information.
  3. Anyone who doesn’t participate is dead weight. The leader who doesn’t participate is a policeman.
  4. Cap the number of participants at 7. Meetings become about information when more people sit at the table. (See #2.)

3. Micromanaging. Micromanaging feels like distrust.

  1. Micro-managers think micromanaging is good management. Everyone else tolerates it. There’s energy in positive relationships.
  2. Explore and answer your points of distrust. Then release people and expect responsibility.
  3. Respond to mistakes with, “What are we learning,” not, “You screwed up.” Try, “What will you do differently next time?”
  4. Ask, “How would you do this?” And, “What do you think?” Go with their approach unless it’s harmful.

4. Negative feedback without honor, reward, or gratitude.

  1. Keep negative feedback to one event. Don’t say, “You’ve been doing this for months.” Piling on negative examples to validate negative feedback invites defensiveness.
  2. Circle back in a week or so to reconnect and see how things are going. Make the pursuit of excellence a process, not an arrival.
  3. Give 3x more affirmations than criticisms.
  4. Focus recognition on behaviors you want repeated. Avoid giving recognition exclusively for results. Recognize behaviors that deliver results.



Questions to ask an older, godly and fruitful leader:

I’ve heard it said that it’s better to ask the right questions than to give the right answers.

Asking good questions of the right people is a fantastic way to learn and grow as a leader. You obviously grow more by listening than by talking.

A number of years ago (while we were serving in Sweden), a young doctor whom I was discipling decided to take some time off from his practice and travel for a few weeks around the United States, meet as many Christian leaders as he could, and ask each of them a series of questions.

He learned a ton and became a better leader as a result of this trip and the answers he received to his questions. He tape recorded everything he heard and had a "Treasure Trove" for his ongoing leadership development.

If you are a younger leader, or new at leadership but a bit older, here are some suggested questions you may want to ask of a more seasoned, godly and fruitful leader.

1.  What are the top three attributes you look for in a potential leader?

2.  What is your definition of leadership success?

3.  What is the most difficult decision you ever made and why?

4.  What is the worst decision you ever made and what did you learn from it?

5.  What was the best decision you ever made and why?

6.  What one piece of advice would you give to a younger,  newer, leader?

I will begin the process by giving you my answers to the six questions:

1.  A teachable spirit, a solid and deepening walk with Jesus and a contagious passion.

2.  I would define success as maintaining a healthy relationship with God and others as I pursue a clearly defined God-given life purpose, which honors Him and helps me to carry out the Great Commission and the great commandment.

3.  Letting somebody go who has been on my team. It’s difficult because I know there will be potential pushback and fall-out which I will have to deal with, as well as perhaps being unpopular and misunderstood for a while--maybe a long while.

4.  The worst decision (and I made it more than once) I ever made was waiting too long to take action I should have taken. I wimped out on more than one occasion due to fear of what people would think, say or might do. In a few instances, I regret not doing what I knew I needed to do and unduly procrastinated due to cowardice on my part. I was more interested in pleasing men than pleasing God (Galatians 1:10). I believe that delayed obedience can be disobedience.

5. Narrowing my focus on developing leaders for the rest of my life. It happened as a result of getting clarity on what my purpose, calling and vision was and then, by his grace, deciding to reorient how I used my time, gifts and energy so as to focus on developing the next generation of leaders in local churches. One of the smartest things I ever decided as I was led and empowered by Him.

6. Here’s my advice to a young leader. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and get clarity on who you are and what God is calling you to do; then do it with great passion and great joy for the rest of your life so you will be a “Leader Who Lasts.”

Please consider taking these six questions and select a few leaders whom you respect and look up to and gain some wisdom from them so you can be the best leader you can be as you are led by Him, empowered by Him and seek to honor Him.







Why Busy Leaders Make Bad Leaders

No leader wants to be a bad leader. If you are feeling too busy most of the time and often tell others that you are, there is a good chance you are a bad leader.

Here is Cary Nieuwhof to tell is why this is so.

Originally posted by Cary Nieuwhof

Ask a lot of people how they are, and they’ll shoot you a single word answer: Busy 

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that’s a pet peeve of mine. I hate it when people tell me they’re busy.

What does that really accomplish in the first place? Nothing.

How does it help the person you’re talking to? Right, it doesn’t.

But deeper than my social aggravation is this issue: I’ve noticed that people who usually tell you they’re busy are often bad leaders.

Or flip that. Talk to highly effective leaders and you’ll notice they rarely tell you they’re busy.

In fact, some of the finest leaders I know almost emit a sense of busyness or overwhelm, yet they’re often juggling 100x more responsibility and weight than the retired person who tells you they’re busier than when they used to work, or the leader of a small organization who is running around like a headless chicken.

Why do busy leaders make bad leaders?

Five reasons.

1. Busy Leaders Have No Plan

Busy leaders often lack a plan. There’s no structure to their day, or if there is, they don’t stick to it.

By contrast, highly productive and effective leaders have a plan and they stick to it.

If you find yourself too busy, ask yourself, what’s your plan not to be?

Can’t answer that?

That’s why you’re always so busy.

2. Busy Leaders Live In Reactive Mode

There are really only two ways to live life: reactively or proactively.

Proactive leaders make things happen. Reactive leaders merely respond to what’s happening.

The vast majority of people live reactively.

Reactive leaders often wait to see what happens and then respond accordingly, or they get diverted from crisis to crisis, issue to issue.

As a result, their most important tasks and responsibilities get pushed to the side.

Hours become days. Days become weeks. Weeks become years. And years become your legacy.

At the end of your life, you accomplished few significant things because all you did was react to what was happening around you.

Leaders who react to what’s happening rarely make things happen.

3. Busy Leaders Let Other People Control Their Time

If you listen closely to the vocabulary of a person who is always telling you that they’re busy, you’ll notice they say things like “I had to” or “I just had no choice.”

Which is exactly their problem.

No, you didn’t have to. Actually, you had a choice.

You could have laid in bed all day if you wanted to. You could have said no. You could have decided how you would spend your day.

You have plenty of choices.

But a busy person never sees that choice.

Constantly complaining that you have no time is a sure sign you let other people control it.

4. Busy Leaders Don’t Tune Out Distractions

You know what every phone call is, as well as every email, every text message and every knock on the door?

It’s someone trying to superimpose their priorities on you.

I know that sounds harsh…but think about it.

You know you have to get certain priorities accomplished, but my guess is no one ever texts you to ask you whether it’s getting done.

Why is that?

Think about it. People never ask you to accomplish your priorities. They ask you to accomplish theirs.

That’s exactly why you text email and call people, isn’t it?

Effective leaders know how to tune out those minute-by-minute distractions. They check email periodically, not every minute. They silence their devices and focus.

Because no one asks you to accomplish your priorities. They only ask you to accomplish theirs. Effective leaders know that.

5. Busy Leaders Waste More Time Than They Admit

Busy people love to act like they have no choice and they’re oh-so-slammed.

Until you catch them binge watching Netflix, or lingering over an iced coffee checking Instagram, or talking for 30 minutes at a workmate’s desk about nothing in particular.

I’m not trying to be judgmental. I’m all for iced coffees and Instagram.

It’s just there’s a cognitive dissonance in many of us between what we believe and what’s true.

You have the time for what matters. After all, every leader gets 24 hours in a day.

You have the time to get the most important things done. You just didn’t make the time—you spent it doing something else.




Three kinds of critical decisions leaders need to make

Leaders make decisions. That’s what they do. The more the responsibility, the more may be riding on each and every decision.

I want to submit to you that the most important decisions leaders make fall into three major categories and out of these three come all the other lower level decisions.

Directional decisions:

A good leader sets the direction for the group, organization or church. What exactly will we do as we build on our Purpose (why we exist) our Values (what we believe) and our Vision (where we are headed)? I call these decisions strategic initiatives. The leader leads the charge as to what initiatives will be set in motion in order to build on the purpose, values and vision.

The initiatives have also been referred to as BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) and WIGs (wildly important goals). There are a lot of things that can be done, but everything is not equally essential or will provide the most leverage.  In many cases we’re talking about 3-5 strategic initiatives in a six  month, one year, or 5-year time frame.  It’s not just a matter of doing things, but doing the most important things in any given period of time…things which will have the most impact in moving the ball down the field. You can’t do everything but you can do some things. And what those “some things” are is critically important to future success.

Personnel decisions:

In order to accomplish these strategic initiatives the right team of people need to be in place. One of the most important decisions a leader makes is who he/she invites into the core team to help accomplish the purpose, values and vision via the strategic initiatives.

Success in any endeavor will be the result of, as Jim Collins says, “Having the right people on the bus and in the right seats.” Nothing can scuttle the team efforts faster than either having the wrong people or having the people in the wrong seats on the team bus--people operating outside of their passion, experience, gifting and capacity.

Financial decisions:

Once the decisions have been made as to where the group, organization or church is headed (strategic initiatives) , and the team is in place to help you get there, you need the finances to fund everything. I have heard it said that upwards of 80% (maybe even higher) of new businesses and new church plants fail.

One of the reasons (but certainly not the only reason) this is the case is because they are under-capitalized. They are overly optimistic about how fast things will proceed and don’t have the cash flow to continue beyond a few short years.

Suffice it to say that things take longer than we thought and cost more than we anticipated. How many projects have you seen started in various cities around the country that take years longer than was originally stated and cost millions more than was originally anticipated? The leader and the team need to be thinking of creative ways to motivate and inspire people to support the endeavor at hand. I believe that giving follows vision. If the vision is big enough and inspiring enough, people will come out of the woodwork to give to it.

Robert Schuller, founder of the the Crystal Cathedral, said “It’s never a money problem, it’s a vision problem.” My experience has born this out. The money is out there, but the vision is too weak (or doesn't exist at all) which would bring in the necessary funding.

May I encourage you, fellow leader, to think about what kind of directional, personnel and financial decisions you and your team need to make in the coming mont


Some excellent advice to younger leaders! Take heed!

If you are a younger leader (or know one who is) this is perfect for you. Here is some sound, but difficult to receive, advice for younger leaders. It was collegiate basketball legend John Wooden who said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that really counts.” Read and learn!

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

I have some hard advice for young leaders.

Before I share , I feel the need to be clear — in case you’re a new reader — to assure you I’m a supporter of young leaders. Ask anyone I work with, or look at decisions we’ve made as a church, or the personal investments of my time into young leaders and you can clearly see I believe in the next generation of leaders. I only build my case of support, because this may be a hard word to receive.

To illustrate this principle, let me begin with a story:

When out oldest son Jeremy was in high school he was on the wrestling team. It was intense training. I loved the discipline and confidence it gave him and I loved the wrestling matches.

When Jeremy would come home from a hard day of practice he wanted to bring what he learned in training into our family time. I had always enjoyed wrestling with my boys, but now he wanted to take our play time to a whole new level. We would start wrestling in the “assumed position” he had been taught, but then I would use my extra 70 pounds as an advantage and quickly pin him to the ground. He would often yell, “No, you’re doing it wrong! That’s not the rules!

To which I would always reply, “No buddy, you’re on my turf now, you play by my rules…and I say there are no rules.”

And in that illustration lies a principle younger leaders need to learn as they enter the field of leadership.

Here’s the principle:

If you’re gonna play with the big boys and girls — you’ve gotta bring your big boy and girl game.

Let’s face it. Many entering the field of leadership today have lived as a generation where they were given much of what they wanted but had few demands placed on them personally. They played multiple sports, for example — which they enjoyed — but it meant they didn’t have “chores” when they were home. Of course, there are exceptions, but this is often the case. By the way, this was also more the case for my generation than for my father’s generation.

I’m not being completely critical of this — it was mostly true for our boys also, but because of this, I often see young leaders enter the field of leadership these days with some unrealistic expectations. They sometimes expect to receive equal reward without paying their equal dues.

I should also point out I see some incredible young leaders. Hard-working. Conscientious. Dedicated. Loyal. So this is an “if the shoe fits” post.

What disturbs me most is when young leaders fail to live up to their full potential.

Here are 10 ways I see that occurring:

  • Making excuses for poor performance rather than attempting to improve
  • Pretending to have answers to problems they’ve never experienced
  • Refusing to learn from other people — especially older people — discounting anything which isn’t from your generation
  • Demanding more than they are willing to give — maybe especially in regards to respect
  • Expecting a reward they haven’t yet earned
  • Depending on step-by-step instructions instead of learning by trial and error
  • Refuting another generation for content when technique is the real difference
  • Being cynical towards anything opposite of the way they think it should be
  • Remaining fearful of taking risks or making a mistake
  • Treating loyalty as if it is a strange idea from the past

Wow! I told you — hard words. They only sting if they’re true.

And, granted, all of these were probably true to some extent of every generation. They seem very common today among younger leaders.

My advice:

Young leaders be patient, teachable, humble, grateful and mold-able as your enter positions of authority and as you are given responsibility. Don’t fail to learn all you can from those who went before you or to grow from your mistakes. Expect to work hard to achieve the things you want from life and realize things may not always be as you would want them to be. There are a few stories of people who stumbled into instant success, but those are rare.

The reward: 

Over time, as you are diligent, you will likely change some of the rules. I hope you do. Some of the rules of my generation need changing. I’m not afraid for you to teach this old dog new tricks. I want to learn from you. I want you to have responsibility and authority. I want you to be fully rewarded and recognized for your contribution to society. I also want you to realize, however, that most things of lasting value take time and discipline to achieve.

The “big boy and girl” world can be tough, but you can make a huge contribution if you are willing to pay the price.

By the way, I gave this same advice to my sons as they have entered adulthood and the workplace.