How Leadership Habits Can Hinder Your Effectiveness – Part 2

One of the truths of growing into senior leadership is that relational issues become more acute the larger the church gets. By the time the church is the size of a Willow, Hillsong, Elevation, Life Church or Northpoint, the technical aspects of church are generally handled by specialists. It’s the senior leadership of vision casting and people development that separate continually growing churches from the also-rans.

Growing these churches is complicated by the human dynamic of leaders who are, to state the obvious, extremely human. With all that is joyful and exuberant in being human, we also have the darker side that in spiritual leadership always has to be given over to the Lord.

In Part 1 of this two-blog series we discussed 10 of the leadership habits leaders need to break. 20 leadership habits were gleaned from the book by Marshall Goldsmith* entitled, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Here are 10 more habits to watch for:

11. Claiming Credit We Don’t Deserve
(The most annoying way to overestimate our contribution to any success.)

This habit doesn’t even border on dishonesty. It simply is. Smart pastors always give credit where it’s due. As well, when these same leaders achieve success, they spread the credit for that success as far as they can.

12. Making Excuses
(The need to reposition our annoying behavior as a permanent fixture so people excuse us for it.)

There are not many things worse than for a pastor to make excuses for their own failures or lack of vision. Buck up and be a man or a woman.

13. Clinging to the Past
(The need to deflect blame away from ourselves and onto events and people from our past; a subset of blaming everyone else.)

Pastors can celebrate the richness of the past. However, to hang onto those things will only stymie the growth of the church. Leaders accept the cards they are dealt and look to the future.

[NOTE: Want video resources to help you lead your church board? Click here to access these church video resources.]


14. Playing Favorites
(Failing to see that we are treating someone unfairly.)

Playing favorites is child’s play and has no role in the church. If any entity on earth needs to operate with fairness, it is the church. Pastors with this habit will need help from others in seeing and changing how they treat one person compared to another.

15. Refusing to Express Regret
(The inability to take responsibility for our actions, admit we are wrong, or recognize how our actions affect others.)

To say “I’m sorry” is one of the strongest tools of leadership. It demonstrates humility and strength at the same time. It disarms critics and moves the mission of the church much further down the track.

To say “I’m sorry” is one of the strongest tools of leadership. Click To Tweet

16. Not Listening
(The most passive-aggressive form of disrespect for colleagues.)

This is an all-too-prevalent bad habit for pastors. As well, it is uncanny in its deception. Many pastors pride themselves in listening well. Not listening to key staff and lay people will ultimately be the undoing of some pastors. Listen well. Learn much.

17. Failing to Express Gratitude
(The most basic form of bad manners.)

Oh, the beauty of those two words “Thank you.” Pastors of larger, growing churches regularly say, “Thank you.” They understand that riding on the shoulders of others will go much further when appropriate expressions of gratitude are given.

18. Punishing the Messenger
(The misguided need to attack the innocent who are usually only trying to help.)

One of the quickest ways for a pastor to stop getting needed feedback is to punish the messenger. When unpleasant news comes, discern its validity and, when necessary, take steps to address the issue at hand.

19. Passing the Buck
(The need to blame everyone but ourselves.)

This habit insures that the church, if it hasn’t already, will soon plateau and decline. President Truman’s sign on his desk said it best: “The buck stops here.” Every pastor must take responsibility for leadership and stop passing the buck.

20. An Excessive Need to Be “Me”
(Exalting our faults as virtues simply because they’re who we are.)

Needing to be “me” is code language for “I don’t want to change.” Too often, being “me” in the life of the pastor is a primary roadblock to the church becoming all it can be. Forget “me” and be who you need to be—both for you and for the mission of the church.

Every pastor must take responsibility for leadership and not pass the buck. Click To Tweet

When dealing with any of these 10 or the first 10 leadership habits, it is incumbent on the pastor or church leader to be willing to be humble enough to look themselves in mirror and acknowledge need of the Lord to break those habits.

It can be done but only as they give themselves to His working in their lives.  Breaking bad leadership habits is high value – very much worth doing!

So what are you waiting for? It is time to get rid of the habits, and let God change you and advance the church!

* Marshall Goldsmith, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (New York: Hyperion, 2007), pp. 40-41.

[NOTE: Want video resources to help you lead your church board? Click here to access these church video resources.]


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