Ron Edmondson believes growing in our leadership abilities should be a goal for every person, and especially leaders. Sadly, he speculates, many leaders settle for status quo leadership rather than stretching themselves to continually improve. They remain oblivious to the real health of their leadership and the organizations they lead. They might get by, people might say things are “OK”, but it isn’t excellent. The Rev. Edmondson has identified seven characteristics of this “shallow” leadership style. They are:
1. Shallow leaders think their idea will be everyone’s idea.
In this leadership style, the leader assumes everyone is on the same page. The leader thinks everyone thinks like the leader. In this leadership style, the leader stops asking questions of the team and stops re-evaluating the process to keep the “team” moving forward in the best possible way for the good of the whole.
2. Shallow leadership believes their way is the only way.
In this leadership style the leader is the leader and must be right. The leader has had some success, but it went to feed the ego of the leader just a little. So, the leader becomes headstrong, controlling, making every decision, never delegating.
3. Shallow leaders assume they already know the answer.
In this leadership style, the leader thinks they have led long enough to see it all. The leader quits learning, stops reading the signs of the team. The leader seldom, if ever, meets with other leaders to discuss new ideas.
4. Shallow leaders pretend to care, when really they do not.
In this leadership style, the leader’s passion has grown cold. The leader might speak the vision, but they’re just words. The leader just goes through the motions, drawing a paycheck. But, truth be known, the leader would rather be anywhere than in the present with the team.
5. Shallow leadership gives responses that make themselves popular.
In this leadership style, the leader likes to be liked. The leader never makes the hard decisions. The leader refuses to challenge to press forward in new and exciting territory. In this leadership style, the leader avoids conflict at all costs. The leader runs from the complainer and ignores the real problems.
6. Shallow leadership refuses to make a decision.
In this leadership style, the minute there is a setback, or things don’t go as planned, the leader grows scared, overwhelmed. The leader will not walk by faith. Consequently, the team will not be able to move forward because the leader will not move forward.
7. Shallow leadership ignores warning signs of an ineffective team.
Momentum might be suffering. Things might not be “awesome” anymore, so the leader looks the other way. The leader’s soul is empty, unhealthy. The team might be unhealthy, and the leader refuses to see it.
Many of the signs of shallow leadership might be applicable to our spiritual wholeness and wellness as well. If we take a careful look at our styles and our wellness, we might be able to make adjustments in our personal and professional lives. We may, in fact, enhance our spiritual selves because we will never achieve our best in our shallowness. The first step is to admit.
The Rev. Jerre W. Nolte is senior pastor
at First United Methodist Church, Hays.