THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY INEFFECTIVE LEADERS
Stephen Covey wrote a book describing the seven habits of highly effective people. Well, if there are habits that people can acquire to make them effective, then there are also habits that leaders will want to avoid or break that cause them to be ineffective. Here are some I have been thinking about and working on:
Leaders who want to be effective will be careful that they are not:
1. Spending too much time managing and not enough time leading
Leadership guru Warren Bennis notes that most organizations are over-managed and under-led. There are major differences between managing and leading. Here are a few:
- Managers think short term, leaders long term
- Managers control and minimize change, leaders initiate change
- Managers are reactive (responding to ideas) leaders are proactive (creating ideas)
- Managers solve problems, leaders create excitement, generating more problems by coming up with new ideas never tried before
- Managers are process-oriented (how it is done), leaders are result-oriented (why and if it is done)
- Managers motivate by rules and regulations, leaders by empowerment and vision
2. Spending too much time in counseling the hurting and not enough time in developing the leaders
John Maxwell makes the observation that people with very strong mercy gifts don't function well in visionary leadership. They don't want to hurt anybody or make decisions that offend or cause conflict. My experience would verify that. Those leaders who know they have a strong mercy side must be very careful about who they spend time with. All their available time and energy will go to the hurting and the discouraged, leaving minimal time to develop future leaders which is the leader’s main responsibility. The hurting will find you. You will have to find the leaders.
3. Spending too much time fighting fires and not enough time lighting fires.
The leader needs to be a proactive fire lighter, not a reactive fire fighter. Many leaders spend so much time dealing with issues in a crises mode that they have precious little time left to deal with the longer term issues so as to not be caught behind the change curve.
4. Spending too much time doing and not enough time praying, dreaming and planning.
We have all heard the expression, "Don’t just sit there, do something." Leaders need to practice, "Don’t just do something, sit there." A good leader will balance out doing and dreaming, active and quiet, energized and hibernating. A good leader will have less on the "do list" and will free up time to "just sit there"--not always chasing his own tail light in the traffic of life.
Many leaders are entirely too busy with the day-to-day issues and spend comparatively little time in creative dreaming and time alone with God. Peter Drucker says that action without thinking is the cause of every failure.
5. Spending too much time teaching the many and not enough time training the few.
The war will not be won from behind the pulpit. Many leaders invest entirely too much time in public teaching in spite of the fact that statistics show that 70-80% of most audiences are not listening and will not apply what they are getting. Speaking to the crowds needs to be balanced out with investing quality and quantity time with the few who can and will reproduce (2 Timothy 2:2).
6. Spending too much time doing it themselves and not enough time doing it through others.
Short-term thinking leaders do it all by themselves, long-term thinking leaders get others to help them. You have two choices in your leadership. Do it yourself, or get others to help you carry the load (Number 11:17). Your willingness and determination to train, delegate and work through others, more than anything else, may well define your effectiveness and success in ministry.
Today is the day of the team and collaborative leadership, not "the Lone Ranger." I have been in the hiring position numerous times through the years and the person I'm always looking for is the one who does ministry through people, not for people, or with people. Delegate or suffocate, which will it be?
7. Making too many decisions based on organizational politics and too few decisions based on biblical principles
I wish we had more leaders (in the church as well as in the private and public sectors) who do the biblically correct thing and are not overly worried about the politically correct thing. Leaders who don’t hold their wet finger in the wind to see which way it is blowing but using that same finger to turn the pages of Holy Writ to see which way the Spirit of God wants to move.
Truly effective leaders will:
- Spend time praying, dreaming and planning
- Do ministry through others
- Make biblically correct decisions
So, my fellow leader, how are you doing? Is there something you need to change, do differently?