3 Common Leadership Weaknesses
3 Common Leadership Weaknesses
(And How to Minimize Them)
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14
God’s Word clearly teaches that all of us are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in His image. It also points out that each of us has been entrusted with a unique combination of skills and gifts to help us fulfill our calling and to mutually build up one another.
Our differences go even further—some of us are quiet introverts who rarely speak up, and others are highly interactive extroverts with a true gift of gab!
We can chuckle about our personality differences, but when it comes to admitting weaknesses in the area of skills, especially in the professional and workplace arenas, it can be an entirely different story.
Yet, whether we admit to them or not, all of us have weaknesses with the potential to undermine not only our personal effectiveness but also the effectiveness of our teams and organizations. So, the sooner we recognize them and create contingency plans to minimize them, the better.
A recent article published by Business News Daily lists six leadership weaknesses and ways they can negatively impact individual leaders and those they lead. The article recognized that even the best of leaders can be hampered by their weaknesses, but the good news is that there are things we can begin doing now that will help us overcome them.
1 Coronthians 12:4-6 encourages us with these words: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.”
Looking at our individual strengths and weknessess thorugh the perspective of 1 Corithians, let’s focus on three of the most common leadership weaknesses and strategies to overcome them.
- Lack of Trust
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 137:5
Trust is a big concept and is often used in a very broad context. In reality, trust is very fluid. Allow me to illustrate. I love my husband, and I trust him implicitly in almost everything. However, I would never trust my husband to perform surgery on me—he’s a banker, not a surgeon!
Now, for a worker to demand a broad, all-encompassing trust from their boss is not really fair, and it actually can be dangerous. But what we often experience is a leader who has a hard time extending any kind of situational or task-specific trust, even when employees are fully capable and deserving of it.
Lack of trust manifests itself though:
- Top-down approach
- Lack of, or a very calculated transparency
- Information backlog
- Withholding information/data
- Protecting relationships
- Lack of risk
- Lack of creativity and spontaneity
What can you do if trusting those you lead is your weakness?
- Instead of being cc’d on everything, schedule periodic “check up” calls or sessions and then allow your employees room to work and find creative solutions.
- Entrust/release a key relationship to an employee and allow them to develop that relationship based on agreed upon goals.
- Share pertinent information you know would help your employees succeed at a given task.
- The Need to Be Liked
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10
The need for acceptance and approval is not just a leadership weakness—it’s a human weakness. There have been times when all of us have chosen what was popular rather than what was right.
When the need to be liked, accepted and affirmed is a leader’s weakness, however, making emotionally charged decisions soon becomes the rule rather than exception. This cycle results in chaos, a constant shift in direction, abandoning goals too soon and relational conflict.
The need to be liked manifests itself through:
- Making popular decisions instead of right decisions
- Seeking frequent approval/affirmation
- Surrounding yourself with yes-men
- Paralysis of Analysis
- Emotional decision making
- Conflict avoidance
What can you do if the need to be liked is your weakness?
- Before making decisions, always ask for important data to help provide balance.
- Seek out a trusted truth teller and tap into his/her wisdom before making decisions.
- Commit to not making quick on-the-spot decisions, but allow yourself at least 24 hours for prayer and reflection.
- Stagnancy/Lack of Adaptability
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” Romans 12:6
Sooner or later all of us will experience a degree of stagnancy—times when being comfortable is simply easier and less emotionally taxing. But getting set in our ways and doing things just because “we’ve always done them that way” will slowly erode our effectiveness.
Some of us may be creatures of habit, and in that case we may tend to view change as a threat or as something that jeopardizes the familiar process we have worked so hard to build.
Some of us may even view change and innovation as a threat to our leadership position, and when protecting position and power becomes more important than organizational effectiveness, we’ll choose stagnancy and status quo over risk and creativity.
The lack of adaptability manifests itself though:
- Seldom seeking out feedback
- Asking for feedback without any intention to act upon the suggestions
- Risk avoidance
- Critical spirit/attitude toward new ideas
- Lack of funding for innovation
- Fear of the new
What can you do if stagnancy is your weakness?
- Prioritize innovation in your budget and commit to follow through
- Solicit feedback on a regular basis and act on certain suggestions
- Identify creative individuals on your team and empower them through funding and decision-making ability
- If you’re afraid of failure, create an environment where testing new ideas at a lower risk or cost is possible (fire frequent bullets rather than infrequent cannon balls)
- Track results and collect data on what works and what doesn’t
At Lead Like Jesus, we always say that every leadership failure or weakness can be traced back to either pride or fear.
When pride is the way, we’ll have “greater than” thoughts about ourselves, and when fear is present we’ll display “less than” thoughts.
As you think about these common leadership weaknesses, can you identify with one or more of them? If so, pray and ask the Lord to reveal which is the root cause of your weakness—pride or fear. It’s when we understand the WHY behind our weakness and humbly commit to dealing with its root cause that we’ll be able to overcome it by God’s grace.
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