Why Good Leaders Fail
Good leaders fail. You can even be great and still fail as a leader. Failure is a common experience in life and one of those ugly realities we all must face. The encouraging thing about failure is it often allows us to learn and move forward. We see many if not all leaders in scripture experience failure in their life. Leaders of the Bible like Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Paul, and Peter failed at some point and often in significant ways. However, their failure did not define them as God’s creation.
The grace and love of Christ can reopen the door to opportunity in leadership. As we look at this week’s article, we can see a simple mistake that many leaders often slip into, the focus being only on results or Content and not focusing on both Content and the Process.
Process and Content
Last week I spoke with a good friend who said, “If your parent gave you everything, but they never had time for you, then the things would not mean anything because there was no relationship attached to the things.” WOW!!! What a powerful statement.
Do you see how the parent was focused on the things (Content – What he wanted as results intellectually from his mind?)? I can hear the parent say, “I give my kids everything they could ever want.” Can you also see that the effectiveness of the parent’s gift was dependent on the depth of the relationship he had with his child? (This represents the Process part of the story, which speaks to the power of emotionally connecting with people to form strong relationships.)
As can be seen above, to be good parents, leaders, employees, spouses, etc., we actually need both Process AND Content. We need both the How AND the What. It is not one OR the other. Deep thought, isn’t it?
I have previously shared that there are two aspects to Process:
- How we do things.
- How we say things.
Let’s focus on how we do things — how we interact with people to set and pursue our goals.
We know that our actions matter as believers just as 1 John 3:18,
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
I enjoy learning about other leaders and observing what makes them successful. I’ve learned a lot from one chief executive, whose perhaps greatest skill is the way he interacts with others. He achieved an incredible increase in corporate performance by simply changing the authoritative corporate culture to one best characterized as Process-oriented teamwork.
For thirty years his organization had been run by the creative founder (a real genius) who made all the decisions himself and then dictated operating instructions to his three submissive, but frustrated, lieutenants.
After the founder moved on, this chief executive took over. He began leading his team by seeking input from the key people on his team before making major policy and strategy decisions. With this new approach, the company that had grown five to ten percent a year for 30 years exploded with record-setting growth. During the next 4 years, he led the company to volume increases of more than 400 percent and profits that rose over 1,800 percent.
Why Good Leaders Don’t Have to Fail
It’s awfully easy in the short run to make quick decisions on our own and to be curt and directive in giving instructions. However, it takes incredibly little additional time and effort to allow others:
- To contribute their thoughts on pending decisions
- To encourage involvement
- To ask for commitments instead of demanding them
- To be constructive and supportive when seeking improvement
- To be able to disagree without being disagreeable
- To capitalize on the creative ideas and support of all those who can contribute to making good things happen.
Question: What does it take to improve the way one interacts with others?
Answer: An understanding of people’s desires and needs, coupled with a small investment of time and effort. Helps tap the power of Process and will yield wonderful long-term returns. The increases in morale and teamwork will lead to improved performance and results.
Pause and Reflect: Why Good Leaders Fail
- How can you put this principle to work in your own organization?
Related, Articles, Videos, and Podcast Episodes
- Why Mastering Relationships Matters
- The Legacy of Kindness with Pamela Ballard
- Build Your Team Through Trust
- Communicating the Gospel in a Digital Age with Peter Kerridge
- Fostering a Biblical Worldview through Homeschooling with Robert Bortins