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5 Signs You’re Not the Leader You Think You Are


Leadership is a funny thing. Some are thrust into positions we never thought we could handle. Some are natural leaders who rise to the top. Many small business owners, pastors and entrepreneurs assume the title of ‘leader’ without ever actually taking time to think about what that means. I’m not the most experienced person in the world, but I have seen lots of bad leaders in action. From the military to ministry and business, I’ve seen ineffective leaders try to force their titles down other people’s throats or worse.

I think the biggest issue with leadership in today’s world is that most people simply lack self-awareness. Being self-aware is the single biggest key to leadership. Argue if you want, but you would be wrong. Without self-awareness, you cannot make good decisions. Without self-awareness, you cannot see your weaknesses. Without self-awareness, you cannot accurately find or fix problems in your organization. No leader can be perfect. Every leader has weaknesses. If you are not aware of yours, if you can’t find people to complement those weaknesses, then you are in for a long, rough ride as a so-called leader.

The following are a few warning signs that you might be over your head as a leader. If you’re taking the time to read this, I strongly encourage you to be honest. Ask yourself if you are exhibiting any of these signs and if there is anything you can do to change.

1 – Repeatedly Failing to Reach Your Goals

Every leader will fail. That is a given. No leader, no matter how great, will reach their goals every time. Leaders who consistently fail are not leaders, no matter how badly you want them to be. If you’re a pastor or church leader who sets attendance or participation goals and year after year you fail to reach them, you need to look in the mirror and ask yourself some tough questions. If you lead a team of salesmen and your team consistently cannot meet sales goals, you might want to re-evaluate. If you and your teams are setting the same goals year after year, you are simply in charge of a stagnant organization and are most likely not the leader you think you are.

2 – Your Team Is Constantly Changing

This one is hard to explain. Business and life are not always about talent. Most of the time it’s about the team you surround yourself with. I understand that in high-level leadership people will come and go. People can be offended and butt-hurt over the smallest things. From what I see, the best leaders typically have one to three people who are with them for a really long time. This is true in sports (i.e., Brady and Belichick) in the church world (i.e., Craig Groeshell and Bobby Gruenewald) and in business (i.e., Steve Jobs and John Ives). I believe that true leadership inspires. The best leaders are able to rally teams around them and move the ball forward. If you look back over the years at your leadership and you’re the only one left, there is something wrong. There is nothing wrong with bringing in new people, but if your organization is a revolving door, you might not be the leader you think you are.

3 – You’re Not Focused on Action

I’ve written before about how vision is overrated. If you think leadership is about vision then your leadership is only about 10 percent complete. If you’re so focused on looking to the future that you forget about the action steps it takes to get there, your leadership skills are lacking. The best leaders are able to execute and makes things happen. If you have great ideas but can’t seem to turn them into reality, you might not be the leader you think you are.

4 – You Fall Back on Your Title and Position

As leaders, motivation is key. If you can’t motivate your teams to work hard and get things done, your organization will struggle to move forward. When you start saying things like “I do what I want because I’m the leader” or “I pay you to do what I say,” you’ve already lost the leadership game. That mentality might work for a short time and you might see short-term results, but in the long run, you will fail to bring in the best people and no one will want to work with you. If you’re using your title to influence others, you might not be the leader you think you are.

5 – You Only Hire ‘Yes’ People

My all-time favorite quote comes from Andy Stanley. He says, “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded with people who have nothing to say.” Wow…what a powerful sentence. If you are constantly hiring people who look, think and act like you, chances are you won’t ever accomplish anything great. Many leaders don’t even know they are doing this, but when the rubber meets the road they just don’t want to be challenged. If your leadership style is “I’m in charge and what I say goes,” very few talented people will stay for the long haul. The best leaders are secure enough to hear opposing views. The best leaders can have intense conversations about the direction of the organization. If you’re afraid of other points of view, you might not be the leader you think you are.

This article originally appeared here.