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The Hardest Person to Lead

Last week, I outlined the new schedule for staff meetings at our church, and my rationale for introducing it. I promised that this week I’d post a sample of our 45-minute Step-Up Meeting. This happens every Tuesday, 9:15-10:00 AM, and all staff attend.

The Step-Up is designed to explore, in an intense, high-energy way, a single idea. It is “resource & insight rich, task light,” meaning that I don’t want the staff to walk out each week with one more thing on their “to do” list, but rather to walk out with one more tool in their tool chest. That might be a fresh insight, a new resource, a better framework, a deep confirmation.

I led the following Session, The Hardest Person to Lead, at our first Step-Up on September 4, 2012. Next week, I’ll post a sample of one of our Strategy Sessions.

New Life

Staff Step Up:

The Hardest Person to Lead

· Exercise:

o Think of the hardest person you’ve ever tried to lead or influence (options: child, spouse, parent, in-law, co-worker, boss, volunteer, etc.).

o What made them so? List whatever constituted a barrier to leading or influencing them – they were defensive, overbearing, delusional, self-righteous, lazy, etc.?

o Did you succeed in the end? If so, how? If not, why?

· A Non-Exhaustive List of Hard-to-Lead People (in no particular order):

o The Maverick

o The Whiner

o The Blamer

o The Saboteur

o The Contrarian

o The Connoisseur

o The Know-it-All

o The Topper

o The Exaggerator/Minimizer

o The Passive Aggressive

o The Entitled

o The Spoil-Sport

o The Sloth

o The Stickler

o The Deluded

· The Greatest of These:

o You. Me

o Cf. Mark 10:42ff

o The James, John & Peter Syndrome: the ones who want to lead – who, indeed, Jesus appoints to lead – struggle most with self-leadership: boastfulness, anger, jealousies, emotional immaturity, promises they don’t deliver on, using power to serve their own agenda, etc.

· Exercise:

o Take 5 minutes & write down every reason you can think of why you are the hardest person to lead; then take 5 minutes and discuss in groups of 3

· A Non-Exhaustive List of Traits of those Hardest to Lead (in no particular order):

o We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions

o We routinely overestimate our contribution and underestimate the contribution of others

o We routinely feel under-appreciated

o We routinely are tired, stressed, distracted and over-extended

o We are experts at avoiding our deeper selves

o We are experts at making excuses for ourselves

o We routinely mistake rhetoric for action: froth instead of elbow grease

o We routinely operate out of our insecurities

o We routinely allow accomplishment to create complacency and failure to create fatalism

o We routinely use busyness to camouflage our lack of effectiveness

o Most of us build our house (rather than pitch a tent) on the OK Plateau

o Most of us are thrust into leadership roles with insufficient preparation; we tend to cover the gap by faking it

o Most of us have behaviors, often hidden from our own sight, that are counter-productive to our stated beliefs and principles

o We typically measure ourselves by ourselves (cf. 2 Cor. 10:12): we lack an outside, objective gauge for our spiritual, emotional, vocational growth

o Most of our defensive &/or evasive when called on any of this

· A Few Biblical Examples:

o Moses: lifelong impulse to knee-jerk, flinch, and quit

o David: lifelong lack of self-awareness: wisdom for other people’s problems, blindness toward his own (i.e., 2 Samuel 11 & 14)

o Peter: rhetoric trumps action

· The Good News:

o Christ sets us free: shame, fear, evasion (Christ answers resolutely, and helps us answer, “Where are you?” the first question God asks man (Gen 3). He sets us free to answer: “Here I am” (Is 6))

o Spirit makes us the leaders who lead ourselves first: Spirit reminds us of Christ’s Truth, conforms us to Christ’s character, gifts us with Christ’s abilities, and grows in Christ-likeness. The greatest self-leadership move: be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5)


King of Prussia meets an old man who is king over himself

Question: Do you agree or disagree that you are your hardest person to lead? What would you add to the list of reasons why?

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