How to Avoid Painting Yourself into 4 Common Leadership Corners

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How often have you found yourself facing a leadership challenge where you asked yourself, “How did I get into this mess?”

Unfortunately, sometimes the answer is that you may have put yourself in that position.

I call this “painting yourself into a leadership corner”.

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And the best way to deal with these challenges is to avoid putting yourself there in the first place. Here are four of the common corners that church leaders often paint themselves into, and a few ideas for how to avoid them.

1.   The My-door-is-always-open corner
Granting such unlimited access to everyone in your church is a noble-sounding sentiment, and can possibly be managed when your church has fewer than 100 people. But good luck with this when your church grows to 1000 or more.

Effective leaders must be strategic about where, when, and with whom they invest their time.

2.   The Let’s-put-up-a-memorial-plaque corner
Church leaders love to recognize “fallen saints” by sticking a plaque honouring their memory on a piano, a pew, a classroom or entire wing.

But if you need to renovate, I wouldn’t want to swing that sledge hammer through a memorial plaque. And neither should you.

Find ways to honour the past without limiting your future.

3.   The You-deserve-a-raise-today corner
Rising stars need to be recognized and rewarded with appropriate increases in compensation, with added responsibilities, and with titles that reflect their responsibility.

But proceed with extreme caution when doling out such recognition. Because while it’s easy and fun to hand out these rewards, it’s almost impossible to pull them back. A premature promotion can come back to bite you.

4.   The Let’s-call-this-the-FIRST-ANNUAL corner
Don’t give away your calendar.

There is no upside to calling something a “First Annual” anything. Nor should you announce a feature in your weekend services will happen “the first Sunday of every month”, nor any other declaration that will hand-cuff your planning calendar.

Each of these promises can have short-term gains but often result in long-term pains. So be very wise about issuing these kind of public promises.

Because leadership is a lot more fun when you’re not painted into a corner.

What leadership corners have you found yourself in, and how did you get out?

the author

Scott Cochrane

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