Let me fill you in on a little secret about leaders:
Leaders are insecure too.
Oh, we often carry ourselves in a way that communicates competence and confidence, but the truth is, as a percentage, there are just as many leaders who struggle with insecurity as in the non-leader population (if there is such a thing).
In my last post (click here to catch up), I shared about excuses and my belief that when we make excuses for failing to do right or avoid wrong, we are really declaring that we prefer slavery over freedom. I think this applies to everyone, leaders included, but in this post I want to give the topic a twist and share a practical thought about excuses for leaders. Whether you’re a leader in business, full-time ministry, small group ministry, non-profit, family, etc…I believe we can all benefit from a quick look in the mirror.
Most leaders are focused on results. We have dreams and goals and visions of success. We are driven to work hard both personally and with those whom we lead, to advance, overcome and achieve something together. For the leader, vision is never business; it’s always personal. So missing the target cuts deep. It’s when we’ve missed our target that a leader is most tempted, often by his or her insecurity, to make excuses. Failure, or even the belief that one has failed, can make an insecure leader feel incompetent or impotent, or both. For the insecure leader, this is a very tough pill to swallow. So rather than swallow that tough pill that tastes a lot like humble pie and reminds me that I’ve still got a lot to learn, I make an excuse.
What is the most dangerous excuse a leader can make?
“It’s not my fault, it’s their fault.”
When I am willing to blame someone else because we missed a target, what I am really saying is, “While I would’ve been willing to accept the credit had we hit that target, I’m too insecure to accept the blame for missing it.”
Blaming someone else when a goal is left unachieved carries some pretty serious consequences. Here’s three:
- Others are hurt.
- You credibility is diminished.
- Your opportunity for growth is lost (and with it probably your chances to for success next time).
Does this mean that a leader can never place the responsibility for a missed target at the feet of someone else? No. It means that a leader who is secure in him/herself places the blame at someone else’s feet both as a last resort and when it is truly warranted.
Carrying the burden of leadership is never easy, but it’s certainly much easier in times of victory than in the moments of defeat. If you are a leader, getting free from your fears and insecurities will set you up well to lead with strength in the difficult seasons. When that happens, the people who are with you will stay close to you until you do hit the target and more.