Tag Archive: failure

When You're an Inadequate Leader

holding boulder

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto®

There are some days you’ll feel like an inadequate leader. Some days, it’s just something you feel – and other days, it’s a reality.

In my library, I have just shy of 100 books on leadership. So, I know (or at least have read about) what it means to be an effective leader. I know what an effective leader looks like.

And I also know when I don’t measure up.

On days when you’re not as good of a leader as your job requires, responding to that well is, in fact, a leadership opportunity. So how does this play out?

In a recent work day, I acquiesced. I wasn’t trying to be a great leader anymore, but was simply trying to control the rate at which I was disappointing people. It was clear I couldn’t be all I needed to be for others, so I was trying to regulate the disappointment factor.

I’ve been doing the church-leader role for 18 years, and I know when the issues pressing me are beyond my ministry intelligence or my capacity as a leader. This happens enough that I’ve developed some responses for when I experience those situations.

When you’re not the leader everyone needs you to be or your job requires, consider the following:

  1. Take a deep breath. You’ll likely be better tomorrow.
  2. Vent to an appropriate person. (I don’t recommend venting on a blog, as I’m doing.)
  3. Call for help. Just because it’s beyond your capability doesn’t mean it’s beyond another’s.
  4. Look to Scripture. There are numerous leaders in the Bible who were overwhelmed, and yet God saw them through.
  5. Realize not everyone noticed your leadership shortfall.
  6. Realize most people will give you grace.
  7. Think gray – you don’t have to solve all your leadership issues in one day.
  8. Pray, and be reminded that your identity comes from God – not how well you perform your leadership tasks.
  9. Evaluate. If your shortcomings seem to be consistent in one area, determine what that is, and work on a self-development plan.
  10. Show up the next day, and strive to be the best you can.



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If You're Going To Miss, Call "Help!"

Help me please!

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto®

One of my standard comments to prospective employees or new staff* is:

I realize you’re going to fumble the ball sometimes, but just don’t fumble without first calling “help.”

  • It’s one thing to miss a deadline. It’s another to not let people know in advance who may be able to help or do damage control.
  • It’s one thing to make an error in judgment. It’s another to let those you report to be surprised by the error at the same moment everyone else in the church is.
  • It’s one thing to not have the skills or knowledge to complete a task. It’s another to be irresponsible by not collaborating with people who can help provide those skills or knowledge. (Click here to read a previous post on collaboration.)

Mistakes will happen. But ignoring or concealing them until the 11th hour isn’t fair to your church or place of business.

You’ve got to determine what’s more important: your pride, or the objective you’re trying to achieve.

Like I have, you will fumble the ball. But when you see the fumble coming, call for help, and see if someone else can take the ball.

Is there a project you’re already behind on?

Is there an assigned task you don’t think you have the knowledge or skills to complete?

Call “help!”

Calling “help” doesn’t necessarily mean you walking away from the task. Sometimes, it just  provides others a chance to collaborate with you. Other times, a team leader may determine to reassign the task.

I’ve fumbled the ball, both literally and figuratively, and it doesn’t feel good. But it feels worse when I’ve looked up to the sideline and seen willing, competent people who could’ve helped me if I’d asked.

*Read more about onboarding and orientation for new staff in a recent post.

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