By Carey Nieuwhof
In the past 20 years of ministry, I have noticed common things that kill the success of leaders, both in my own life and in the lives of others. There are many things most leaders don’t see coming, but these things often kill the success and opportunity God has given you to lead at a new level.
Here are seven success killers in leadership that nobody expects, but most leaders experience at some level.
Cynicism can creep into the lives of even the best leaders and take you out or cap your leadership if you’re not careful. No matter how you’re naturally wired, you tend to grow more cynical. Age and cynicism are often companions.
And cynicism doesn’t start because you don’t care. It starts because you do.
The antidote to cynicism is the gospel itself. You can’t just preach the gospel. You must live it.
Jesus looks at death and shows resurrection. Jesus looks at hopelessness and shows you hope. If you are struggling with cynicism right now, reclaim your belief in the gospel.
A thousand little compromises leave you compromised as a leader. Competency gets you in the room, but character keeps you in the room.
Character is the thing that the people closest to you care the most about. It doesn’t matter if one of your followers thinks you’re amazing if your family doesn’t like you or feels hurt by you. Your greatest legacy is that the people closest to you are the ones most grateful for you.
How does that happen? Work twice as hard on your character as you do on your competency. Nobody will pay you to work on your character. They’ll just fire you if you don’t.
God designed us to be connected to Him and connected to each other. Solitude is a gift from God, but isolation is a tool of the enemy. Solitude will replenish you, but isolation is deadly and toxic.
So, how do you reconnect? Slow down! Hurry is the enemy of intimacy. Love has a speed, and it’s slower than you are. Slow down to make time for the people who matter.
Culture never asks permission to change. It just changes. And that gap between how quickly culture changes and how quickly you change is irrelevance.
In the church, our message doesn’t change. But, as culture changes, you have to figure out how to stay relevant. Your methods must change to preserve the mission. We need to connect with people who need the gospel of Jesus. Shrink the gap between how quickly you change and how quickly culture changes, and you’ll stay relevant.
Most leaders don’t struggle with pride because of narcissism but because of insecurity. Pride, at its root, is an obsession with self.
How do you overcome insecurity? Humble yourself. Humility is a practiced habit. Push other people into the spotlight. Publicly celebrate the strengths and gifts of others. Celebrate what God has given others and leverage what God has given you.
Leaders often feel that more people means more work, which ultimately leads to burnout. And after a season of burnout, you can’t return to “normal” because that normal is what led to burnout in the first place.
You must live in ways today to help you thrive tomorrow and to create leadership habits that are sustainable and scalable. By doing less, you may accomplish more.
What do you do when all of your dreams come true and you still feel empty? Emptiness starts with “more.” And when more isn’t enough, you move on to “better.” Then better becomes “different.” In this cycle of accumulation, the kingdom of self is winning and you will never feel satisfied. You will always want more, better, or different.
The antidote to emptiness is living for the kingdom of God, which means dying to yourself. The only thing more terrifying than dying to yourself is living for yourself. When you realize the kingdom of self is winning out, elevate the mission of the kingdom of God. God is going to do great things in and through your life.
Check out Carey’s exclusive Ministry Grid leadership courses here.