Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. They are male and female; they come from all races, nationalities and walks of life. There are bad, good and great leaders. We find them at all levels and in all organizations. Some hold positions while others influence informally. All leadership requires character.
In the past, much discussion has focused on developing leadership skills like casting vision, coaching, leading meetings, aligning team members, motivating, being organized, etc. More recently, topics have turned to relational themes like emotional intelligence, communication, and interpersonal skills. Leading and relational skills are challenging to learn but not in comparison to changing my heart and character.
The longer I lead (and the older I get), it seems that it is more often my character and heart-related issues that trip me up. I struggle with heart attitudes and character issues that get in the way of leading and finishing well.
Here are five kinds of leaders I want to avoid becoming.
Crusty: These leaders are inflexible and not open to new ideas and innovation. They resist change because they have become hardened.
Career: These are leaders who are professional bureaucrats. They are about doing everything by the book and afraid to take risks in fear of jeopardizing their position. In fact they usually have arrived at their position due to upholding or conforming to policies, not necessarily because of their expertise or abilities.
Cranky: These are leaders who are self-protective and avoid sharing their real thoughts and feelings because they are too busy arguing or complaining. They are disagreeable and tend to say, “No”. They are distrustful, suspicious, negative, critical and judgmental of others’ and their ideas. They arrive at the office with a frown, and people know to avoid them.
Calloused: These are leaders hardened and jaded by the trials of life and the criticism of leadership.
Controlling: These leaders use fear of punishment, shame, guilt as primary force to motivate and force their agenda; don’t empower, hoard information. Often combined with command and control that assumes that leaders know best; they know the goals and outcomes, have a predetermined plan of how to get there; they micromanage so there is little deviance from the predetermined plan.
What do you think? Are skills or character harder to develop? Which one of the above 5 do you struggle with the most?
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