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7 Things Senior Leaders Love That Everyone Else Hates

senior leader 7 Things Senior Leaders Love That Everyone Else Hates

It’s funny. A Senior leader will love things that other people often don’t.

If you’re a senior leader, you might recognize yourself in this post. That would be a good thing.

If you’re not the senior leader, you might read this post and think, “Absolutely! This is so obvious! Why on earth doesn’t my (dumb) boss get it?”

As a senior leader myself, it took me a while to figure out that the things I loved honestly frustrated my team or the people I served.

Some of these are innocent, some less so. But one of the keys to leading well over the long haul is to understand that just because it’s a win for you doesn’t mean it’s a win for everybody.

Most people don’t love the same things a senior leader loves. Neither do the people who are part of your church or organization. Understanding that is a key to leading everyone better.

Some of the seven outlined below are little ego boosts that honestly need to be prayed through. Others are just blind spots that are easy to miss.

The key to all of them is to see the impact your emotions, actions and dreams have on everyone else in the organization. And sometimes, that’s hard to see.

So what do senior leaders love that everyone else hates, or at least doesn’t love nearly as much? Seven things.


A little confession. Every Sunday morning at our church I go up to the second floor of our broadcast location and look out at the parking lot to see how full it is. I’m not saying this is good. I’m just saying it’s true.

As a senior leader, I hate empty parking spaces. I get excited when the parking lot is overflowing. I get even more excited when the cars flow out to the street. (Staff park in an adjacent lot, so we leave all the spots for our guestsHere’s why.)

But if you’re the guest…it’s not so fun. I hate going to a restaurant or mall and not being able to find parking.

Or imagine being on the parking crew that morning and dealing with yet again more vehicles than the lot can handle. Sure, they’re pros at helping people, but still.

Who loves a crowded parking lot? Leaders do. Guests don’t.


Well, if you love a jammed parking lot, you’ll probably also love a full house.

Please know that loving a full house and jammed parking lot definitely take you into mixed motive territory. On the one hand, it’s amazing to see so many people coming to your church or lining up to be a part of what you’re doing, and hopefully, their lives are changed as a result. But there’s also the rush that success brings, the thrill that growth brings…and that needs to be wrestled through in honest prayer and confession.

But as much as leaders love a full house, it creates issues for guests. Walk in five minutes late with six people and it’s almost impossible to find seats together. Everyone feels crowded and crushed. Lines form in restrooms and the lobby becomes a crush of confusion.

A full house not only stresses the system, it stresses your team and the very people you’re trying to reach.

An almost-full house is usually better than a full house (add another service, friends).

Don’t let your love of a full house blind you to the issues it creates for a host of other people.


Again, check your motives, but rapid growth can be a thing. As I look back on my time in leadership so far, the times when you double in size or grow by 50 percent in a year are pretty exciting. You see a lot of life-change happen as a result.

Leaders, growth is one thing. Sustainable growth is quite another.

While I’m not sure there’s an exact science to this, one figure I’ve heard repeatedly over the years is that any growth above 30 percent growth a year is hard to sustain.

Having been through some very rapid growth seasons, I couldn’t agree more.

Rapid growth stresses systems, staff, guests and everyone. And often the one who least feels it is the senior leader. But walk down the hall and talk to the pre-school people and they’re pulling their hair out. Or the guest services team who has no idea how to follow up with that many new people. Or the staff who are doing everything they did last year and 50 percent more, without a pay increase or more staff.

Again, as exciting as rapid growth is, leaders need to directly engage the issues involved. And, trust me,  there are issues.

Deal with the issues rapid growth brings, and you can turn rapid growth into healthy growth. Don’t, and your church will struggle even though it’s growing.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.