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How to Follow a Leader You Don’t Like

How do you follow a leader you don’t like, trust or respect?

We’ve all been there. Whether a terrible boss, an inexperienced volunteer leader or a struggling parent, we’ve been accountable to someone whom we had trouble liking, trusting or respecting.

Scripture gives us several instructions to obey and submit to the authority we’re under:

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work” (Titus 3:1).

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1).

I firmly believe leaders carry a great responsibility in the leadership equation. I’ve shared more about that here and here.

But for today, let’s talk about what it means to follow someone you feel like isn’t worthy of following.

Here are some things I suggest:

1. Ask why.

Consider why you don’t like, trust or respect your leader. Is it something petty that irritates you? Is it a personality collision? Or is it a serious sin or character issue on their part?

2. Pray about it.

If it’s a sin or character issue, pray about the situation and consider next steps based on healthy confrontation as defined in Matthew 18.

3. Own what you can.

Make an effort to work together better. Consider how you might have contributed to the lack of trust or respect that exists.

4. Humble yourself.

If you have harbored resentment or been disrespectful, apologize.

5. Extend grace.

If you have not been supportive or have not tried to seek to understand your leader or their perspective, give them another chance.

6. Move on.

If you cannot restore trust or respect, you must remove yourself from the equation. It’s unhealthy to allow tension to exist and erode the morale of the organization.

Have you been in a situation where you had difficulty following your leader? How did you navigate through it? 

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A self-proclaimed “leadership junkie,” Jenni spends her days serving the local church. Most recently she served for nine years as the Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, where she led the staff and oversaw the ministry of its five campuses. Jenni is the founder of Cultivate Her. She loves great books, the perfect cup of tea, playing a game of tennis with her husband and hanging with her dog Mick.