#114: 4 Sure-Fire Ways to Fail as a Leader

For those of you looking for sure-fire ways to fail as a leader, I’ve got four techniques you’ll want to try out. For those of you who prefer to rise and shine as a leader, it would be best to avoid these.

Fail as a Leader

Sure-Fire tip #1: Don’t be decisive

Being decisive is a sign of a powerful leader. You can’t afford to be seen as decisive if you want to fail as a leader. This is especially important if you are surrounded by enemies who are ready to attack. It is key that you let someone else think they are a leader by stepping out in front. Afterall the people in front of the army most often end up with arrows in their chests! It’s about survival, baby!

Sure-Fire Tip #2: Don’t do anything to inspire your organization

There is no sense spending time and energy inspiring your organization towards a common vision or goal if you want to be a bad leader. Look, you are large and in charge. You didn’t get where you are by making flowery speeches about some great vision. Tell the peons to get on board, or else!

Sure-Fire Tip #3: Don’t listen to other’s advice

Being a bad leader gives you the freedom to be your own man/woman. Hey, you’re the boss. What you say goes. You give orders and expect them to be carried out post haste! Just because some wise counselor says you should do something one way, what gives them the right to tell you what to do?! You didn’t ask for their input anyway!

Sure-Fire Tip #4: Don’t be honest about your shortcomings

Nothing can be gained by admitting your weaknesses (as if you had any). When confronted with your failures you need to cover-up, lie, and blame others. Make sure you keep track of those who are bold enough to speak out about your short-comings—they need to be dealt with!

For Further Study

I hope you’ve found these four sure-fire ways to fail as a leader helpful. If you want to study a little more about leadership failure take a look at 1 Samuel 14. In this chapter, King Saul demonstrates each of these four techniques brilliantly.

To set the scene the people of Israel had been selected by God to be His special people. He had led them for hundreds of years, caring for them, protecting them, and providing for them. But the people were unhappy, they wanted a king like all the other people (their enemies) had.

God told the prophet, Samuel, to anoint Saul as their king. God warned the people what it would be like to have an earthly king, but they insisted. Here’s a recap of Saul’s failures from this chapter:

  1. Saul failed to act decisively when threatened by the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:1-4). Jonathon, his son, declared war on the Philistines and defeated them, yet Saul took credit for the victory.
  2. Saul failed to inspire or control his army (1 Samuel 14:5-7). Some of the men ran away, some hid, and some left the country.
  3. Saul failed to follow Samuel’s directions to wait seven days before offering a sacrifice (1 Samuel 14:8-9). His impatience and rebellion against God began his downward spiral early in his reign.
  4. Saul lied to Samuel in an attempt to excuse his actions (1 Samuel 14: 10-15). When Samuel confronted Saul he lied to Samuel rather than confessing and repenting his sin. (We’ll catch Saul in a similar lie in 1 Samuel 15:15.)

So you see, we have a Biblical example of how to fail as a leader. Of course, these weren’t all of Saul’s mistakes, just the ones we see in this chapter, but they should be enough to get you started on the path to failing as a leader.

I’ve been a bit tongue in cheek here. As my daughter says, “the sarcasm light is on!” We may laugh a bit as I recount these characterizations of poor leaders. But seriously, look around at the people who are leaders in business and in government, and tell me you don’t see each of these playing out every day!

As Christians, we are called to be separate from the world, but part of the world. We need to be the shining light on the hill that draws others to Christ through our example. So how about we practice not exhibiting any of these failed leadership practices?

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever been this kind of leader? In what way? Have you worked for this kind of leader?  How did you respond? What was the result?

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Category: Personal Development | Character


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  • Thanks Ron, all good advice. I learned early on what my shortcomings were, and enlisted a Lieutenant who was more adept than I in that area. His support moved us forward! I definitely don’t want to emulate Saul!