Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Qualities of Ineffective Leadership

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.

John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less.

It has often been said that everything rises and falls on leadership. Effective leaders understand this. They realize that it is their efforts to lead well that make a difference in how effective their organizations are. They also realize that if things are not going well, they must look inside themselves to see what they can do as leaders to make things better. They are not afraid to admit their own weaknesses or address those weaknesses head on through additional training and personal growth so they can be the most effective leaders possible.

Unfortunately, not all those in leadership positions are effective leaders. It is not unusual for ineffective leaders to be elevated to leadership positions. It may be that they simply hung around long enough until someone finally put them into a leadership role, without really considering if they had the right skills to be an effective leader. It may be that they manipulated things behind the scenes to get into leadership, and people did not realize their inadequate leadership style until it was too late. Sometimes, they were the only person willing to lead, even though it really was not what they wanted to do. Regardless of how ineffective leaders get into leadership positions, once they are there, they seldom want to give up their positions. Because they are ineffective leaders, instead of rising to the occasion and leading their organization well, they fumble the leadership ball and keep the organization paralyzed. When confronted with the obvious challenges that come from their ineffective leadership, instead of looking at their own leadership efforts and seeking to improve as leaders, they take the exact opposite approach, they blame everyone else. Even though most people accept that everything rises and falls on leadership, ineffective leaders find ways to blame other people for their own leadership failures. They think the leadership rules do not apply to them.

The one thing ineffective leaders are often effective at, is making their arguments for why it is someone else’s fault, sound really good. They are able to convince just enough people that it is someone else’s fault to keep themselves in leadership. But eventually, people get tired of hearing excuses. At some point people start realizing the problem is not with everyone else, but the problem is with the leader. Once peoples’ confidence in a leader erodes, it is very challenging to ever get that confidence back. What was a long slow decline can quickly become a dangerous cliff the organization is tittering on. If leadership does not change immediately, the organization is unlikely to survive the fall off of the cliff.

What does this mean for those of us who are leaders? It means that if things are not going as well as we would like, instead of blaming others, we should look ask God to help us to be the kind of effective leader that moves our organization forward in tangible and healthy ways. We must resist the temptation to play the blame game and instead look for ways to lead through the challenges and see the organization we lead emerge on the other side of challenges healthier and more vibrant than ever. That is what effective leaders do.

Lord, help us not to play the blame game. Help us to honestly evaluate our own leadership style and adjust our activities in healthy ways. Amen.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

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