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Why Most Leaders Fail


May. 24, 2016 M46 Project

Over the next few weeks I will address some common issues of why leaders fail, how to change your perspective, and the importance of knowing your weakness as a leader.

Let’s get started!

I love what my good friend, and current Detroit Lions Head Coach says about character; “There is a high cost for low living!”

You may say, I thought you were talking about leadership? Why are you discussing character? Because you can’t have a great leader without great character, and without great character you will never maximize your potential for leadership.

Leadership has a very broad definition. But at its core, leadership is about the impact you have on those around you, and being able to lead a group of people to perform at a higher level than they thought they could.

Leadership is not just about what you know, your competence in doing something, or the title you carry. Leadership is about people being willing to follow your lead because they believe in you as a person before they believe in your vision.

Your character will be the reason why people will trust what you say, because they can look at your life and see a person who is honest with themselves, and with those around them.

So what is character?

Recently, the tabloids have been filled with people who we thought had character, only to find out that they had secret lives, or had major issues that forced them out of their role, their job, or out of the public spotlight. These were all people that at some point were believed to have great character. But that’s because we were looking at the wrong thing to define character.

Character is not what people can see.

Think of character like an iceberg. Only 10% of the iceberg can be seen, the other 90% of the iceberg is under water. What people see is really only 10% of who you are. It is the part of you that you are intentional about showing other people. It is the part of you that decides how you want people to think of you.

The other 90% reveals your true character. It reveals what you would really like to watch on TV or see on various websites. It reveals the types of things you search for on the internet. Your character reveals your relationships, which will be the reason why you are successful, or they are the reason why you won’t be successful.

I like what Dr. John Townsend says about character; “Character is that set of capacities to deal with the demands of reality.”

In other words, when the demands of life show up, your character also shows up. The “moment of weakness” is really a part of the 90% that if unchecked, will reveal itself at some point in your life.

So how do I deal with the 90%, and not allow my character to impact my leadership?

Here are 4 things you can do to cultivate your character:

  1. Be honest with yourself. Realize that you must own the fact that you are not perfect, and need to continue to grow as a person and a leader.
  2. Be vulnerable. In order to work on your 90%, you must find a pastor, coach, mentor, or colleague that can be trusted for you to be vulnerable with. This allows you to not have the pressure of carrying the burden alone. It also allows for someone to have permission to help you in an area that you’ve identified as a need. It’s ok to wade into this process slowly, and allow people to prove they can be trusted with “little things” before revealing the deep stuff.
  3. Be transparent. Acknowledge to those that you lead that you are not perfect, and a work in progress. Research shows that people would prefer to follow the leadership of Clark Kent, and not Superman. They want someone that they can identify with.
  4. Build your integrity. Find ways everyday to honor your personal integrity. Whether it’s through how you use social media and internet, or taking that second lustful look at someone, or having a relationship with someone you shouldn’t. Don’t give yourself permission to justify not maintaining your personal integrity. What you do should not change based on who is around you.
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