A Harvard Business Review article identified four things about senior leaders who failed. Not all four things were present in each one, but all of them had several of these dynamics operating in them.
They became authoritarian – controlling, demanding, not listening to those around them, not willing to flex or adapt due to input from others.
They became autonomous – aloof, lonely, isolated, having few relationships and little accountability.
They became more arrogant – feeling and acting as if they were superior, critical of others, belittling of others. When threatened they responded with powering up through the use of shame, guilt, and fear.
They committed adultery.
Bobby Clinton, professor of leadership in the world missions department of Fuller Theological Seminary has done extensive work on why some leaders finish well, some finish so-so, and others don’t finish at all. He has found that only 30% of leaders finish well. He found the same percentage when he studied Biblical leaders. He has identified 6 reasons why Christian leaders don’t finish well, in most cases several of the issues mentioned below were at work in their life and ministry:
1) Misuse of finances
2) The abuse of power and authority – they were authoritative, making unilateral decisions, powering up to get their own agenda accomplished. The more “charismatic” in personality the leader is, the more abusive and manipulative their misuse of power and authority becomes.
3) The issue of pride (which may be seen as the fundamental sin out of which all other sins flow). They rarely received feedback, accountability, correction from others. When they did receive feedback, they argued against it with blame shifting, rationalization, denial, and self-justification.
4) Sexual failures
5) Family problems (usually the stressors of the home life where there is marital tension, problems with children, etc.)
6) Plateauing in terms of personal growth (whether spiritual, emotional, intellectual, or professional)
It is a sobering reality both in secular and Christian studies that many leaders don’t finish well and that these leaders have significant problems present long before those problems derail their leadership. And that the problems that derail non-Christian leaders are the same that derail Christian leaders. What else is quite sobering is that these problems are present in the lives of leaders early on and they live in denial about these problems. Daniel Goleman’s research has found that the higher up in positions of leadership a person goes, the less self-aware they are about their leadership dysfunctions.
For examples of leaders who finished well see: Jesus – John 17:4, 19:30, and Hebrews 12:2. Paul- II Timothy 4:1-8
Quoted from “The Leading Edge” – Leadership Training by P. Brian Rice – LWCC – York, PA Contact Connie Leachman [email protected] or 717.848.4293 ext. 130 with questions
Eric Liddell “We are all missionaries. Wherever we go, we either bring people nearer to Christ, or we repel them from Christ. We are working for the great Kingdom of God.”