14-Point Leadership Check Up: Mistakes That Will Hurt Your Leadership

Leadership Check up

Take this leadership check up for yourself.

I just completed my annual physical.

Going through the process of a thorough check-up from head to toe is not much fun, but it’s a smart thing to do. My doctor is excellent and very thorough. He starts with my vital signs, does extensive bloodwork, and then checks for things that might indicate a health issue.

It’s a good idea to do the same thing as a leader. It’s best to focus on the positive things that will strengthen your leadership, but it’s also smart to check your habits against a list of things that could hurt you over the long-haul.

Leadership isn’t easy, but it’s one of the most rewarding endeavors imaginable. Leadership is more art than science, more fluid than structured, and more messy than clean. Therefore, any help we can get for a quick leadership check up is helpful.

That’s what I’ve written for you here. I could probably list 25 things, but these 14 are at the top and a good place to start.

  • Which ones are you doing well?
  • Which ones need improvement?
  • How about the leaders you coach?

You can take them through this as a developmental tool. Let them evaluate themselves, and then you ask questions that lead to offering insights and ideas to help them get better.

14-Point Leadership Check Up

(These things will hurt your leadership if you do them repeatedly over time.)

1) Thinking small

Negative thoughts, feeling hand-cuffed or unempowered, and avoiding risk are all forms of small thinking. There are so many competing agendas, voices that must be heard, and seemingly non-negotiable expectations that when mixed with limited resources and finite energy it’s easy to fall prey to small thinking.

I sometimes catch myself praying big but then leading small, that only happens when I think small. The same can be true for you. Pray big, think big, lead large.

  • In what area or circumstance are you most tempted to think small?

2) Jumping to conclusions

Fast is the new norm, and too fast can get you in trouble. There is always another side to the story. Always. Take time to get the facts. Sometimes just (literally) counting to five before you say something, or press send, can keep you out of hot water. In other situations, a few days may be required.

If someone pushes your buttons, don’t over-react. Instead, when you feel your amperage rising, intentionally power down a notch. It’s much easier to respond with wisdom when your foot is not in your mouth.

  • Do you consistently take the time to hear the other side of the story?
  • Can you resist speaking or reacting too quickly?
  • Do you find yourself interrupting others when they are talking?

3) Resisting change

You know that resisting change is a poor use of your time and energy both personally and professionally. If you don’t change, you can’t grow. And if you don’t innovate your ministries to keep up with the changes in culture, your ministry will get stuck.

  • What’s the last personal change you made and successfully adapted to?
  • What was your most recent change in how you operate a particular ministry?

4) Avoiding risk

It is possible to avoid risk, but you can’t lead and escape risk at the same time. It’s impossible to cast vision and make progress without taking some risks. It might be a big project or a tough conversation. You don’t need to take a foolish blind leap of faith, but you’ll never fully know the future; therefore, risk is required. Pray, trust God, plan and lead!

  • Is there any risk you are avoiding?
  • What is the current risk you’re taking?

5) Starting but not finishing

I’ll let you in on a little secret, not finishing what you start frustrates the people you work with and lead. Being a self-starter and taking the initiative is good, but not if you don’t finish. If you do this often enough it can start to reflect on your character.

If you have too many unfinished projects, it’s better to prioritize them and let your team know which ones you are going to kill so that you can finish the most important ones.

  • What important unfinished project do you need to finish?
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Dan Reiland
Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together.