7 Impractical (but Priceless) Leadership Principles

Leadership Principles

I talk to pastors frequently who find themselves in a difficult situation. Many times, they know the right thing to do, but they can’t bring themselves to do it.

Often, the advice I give is simply received with a reply such as, “I know it’s probably the right thing to do, but it seems like it would be easier just to _____.”

I understand.

Honestly, good leadership isn’t always practical.

Seriously. Think about it. Sometimes, it would be easier just to take the most efficient way. It’s less controversial. It allows the leader more control. It happens quicker.

I’ve learned, however, that the most practical way isn’t always the most prudent way.

Let me explain.

Here are seven impractical leadership principles I practice:

1. I don’t meet alone with the opposite sex.

Unless there is someone else in the office, I don’t meet with females alone. I don’t meet with them for lunch or coffee, except in extreme situations. I know, it’s not practical, but it not only protects the integrity of my marriage and ministry, it protects the perception of my marriage and ministry. Which is almost as important.

2. I don’t make major decisions alone even if I have the authority.

I always invite a team of people, many wiser than me, to help me discern major decisions. I realize it slows down the process. Sometimes, it even kills my plans, but it has protected me over and over from making foolish decisions.

3. I try to kill my own ideas.

I try to find the holes in my ideas and even try to talk people out of it after they’ve already bought into it. I know, crazy, right?

Time and time again, this process has improved the decisions I make, and it always builds a sense of ownership for everyone on the team.

4. I respond to criticism.

What a way to slow down progress! Talk about insane. Why listen to people who have negatives to add to the positives?

But I even listen to anonymous critics sometimes. I’ve learned that criticism often is correct, and it always makes me better. Whether I yield to it or not, it forces me to consider sides I wouldn’t otherwise.

5. I give away tasks to someone less experienced.

I do it all the time. I surrender my right to decide to one with many years less experience than I have.

Some would call that dumb, but I call it genius. The best leaders on our team were “discovered” this way.

6. I push for best.

It’s always easier and faster to compromise. Settling for mediocre saves time and energy…and it makes a leader more popular!

I work through conflict to get to the best solution for everyone. I know, time consuming, but in the long run, the organization wins!

7. I watch people fail.

You heard me. I’ve let people make a mistake I knew they were going to make. How dumb can one leader be, right? Why not jump in to save the day?

I’ve learned, however, that if I do always stop what I see as a mistake, I may miss something I can’t see. Plus, I’ve learned my best leadership from the mistakes I’ve made. Others will also.

There! So much for being impractical. Way to waste some time. Good job being Mr. Inefficient! But if you want to be a great leader, find ways to avoid practicality.

How good are you at being an impractical leader? What other impractical leadership principles have you seen?

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Ron Edmondson
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.