3 Killers of Effective Leadership

“If you could ask just two questions—one personal and one related to your leadership—what might they be?”

I called Bobb Biehl a couple of years ago at a moment when I found myself “unclear” and “fuzzy.” He shared with me three killers of effective leadership that have served me since that conversation. The following is my expansion on his points:

1. Fog

When we don’t see clearly where we are, where we are going and how we are going to get there, leadership (and life, I may add) is hard.

We know that Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). It was a great struggle for him, at times, to fully and clearly submit himself to the will of the Father in critical moments. How can we expect it will require any less of us?

Let me suggest two things if you are in a fog. First, receive your fog as God’s prompting for you to spend extended time alone with him—perhaps a half day or a one- to two-day retreat. Secondly, prayerfully seek out a mentor, a spiritual director, a coach or a more experienced leader. Before you meet, consider the following: If I could ask just two questions—one personal and one related to my leadership—what might they be?

2. Fatigue

Our bodies are major not minor prophets. When we are physically, spiritually or emotionally drained, God is speaking. Slow down. Take a nap. Work less. Go away for a few days. It is the most loving thing you can do for the people you serve. Vince Lombardi said it best: “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

[It isn’t a meaningful Sabbath without these four elements.]

3. Flirtations

Flirtations refer to ideas and projects we shouldn’t be involved in right now. We go to a conference and hear about exciting initiatives. We read about other ministries expanding into new arenas. We hear about how other leaders are growing their churches. And we become stuck in what Eugene Peterson calls “ecclesiastical pornography.”

We get distracted from what is important before us—following through on our core priorities, like making disciples, taking time to invest in our team, thinking through the steps it will take to reach our goals, moving beyond visions to concrete plans, dealing with relational tensions, etc. Leadership is slow and hard—for all of us.

Flirtations repeatedly came Nehemiah’s way to get him off the wall he was building. Yet he resolutely said: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” (Neh. 6:3).

May God grant you and me the same clarity, energy and single-mindedness.

Pete Scazzero is the founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York, and the author of two best-selling books: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and The Emotionally Healthy Church. This story was originally posted on Scazzero’s blog at EmotionallyHealthy.org.

Check out Outreach magazine’s interview with Scazzero, “Emotionally Healthy Leadership” »