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avoiding leadership failure

Scott Williams served as a key leader and Campus Pastor for  Now he is the Chief Solutions Officer for Nxt Level Solutions, a consulting company he founded to help businesses, non-profits and individuals with both internal and external growth.  Here is an article he wrote — “Four Reasons Leaders Fail” — that every leader should take to heart.


Leadership is the most commonly used word when it comes down to the success of an organization, product, group, or team.  No matter how you slice the success pie, the success pieces all boil down to leadership. There are countless books about how to be a successful leader, 21 laws of leadership, how to go from good to great, and the list goes on and on.  People thrive on learning about leadership; the fact that John Maxwell has sold over 19 million books is a clear indication of such.

There are many reasons that contribute to the success of a leader and just as many reasons for why they fail.  I am a firm believer that you can learn as much from your failures and working around poor leadership as you can successful leadership.

Why do leaders FAIL?  Below is a list of 4 memorable reasons leaders FAIL in an easy to remember acronym.

1. Fake

A leader who attempts to be someone they’re not instead of simply being themselves will always have a difficult time succeeding; at some point, it just catches up to them.  This also applies to the leader that has a different face, different persona, different tone, and different everything when certain people are around.  In other words, when the big boss comes around, they put their fake face on.  That’s not to say a leader might not make some adjustments when “company” comes around; however, the super-fake face comes from insecurity of their true self.

Remember: Don’t be fake; be yourself.  “Do You! It’s a Statement…Not a Question!” Fake Leaders Fail!

2. Attitude

One of the primary reasons that a leader fails is because of a poor, negative, or a no-can-do attitude.  If a leader thinks he can fly and has a positive can-do attitude, even though they may not be able to fly, they will come close.  The reason why attitude is important is that the leader’s attitude will rub off on their team members and their followers.

Remember: “Attitude reflects leadership, Captain.” ~Julius in Remember the Titans  The outward negative attitude is generally a sign of internal struggles, challenges, or insecurities.  Leaders with Bad Attitudes Fail!

3. Integrity

If a leader doesn’t exhibit a high degree of integrity, they will fail.  The integrity issues will either catch up to them (what’s done in the dark, will come to light) or those that follow them won’t respect them.  If team members or followers don’t respect the leader, it puts the leader in the place of pushing a snowball up hill…it’s a difficult task.  These integrity issues run the gamut: profanity, lying, cheating, stealing, affairs, flirting, yelling, substance abuse, pride-filled decisions, etc.  I have worked with many high capacity leaders in both the secular world and ministry that have failed because they allowed their integrity to get off track.

Remember:  Integrity is doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching. The recent failure episodes of the Herman Cains and Jerry Sanduskys of the world demonstrate how the lack of integrity will always lead to failure of the leader.  Unfortunately, it demonstrates that leadership failures can leave a trail of wounded followers behind.  Leaders who lack integrity Fail!

4. Lacking

Although everyone has potential for some degree of leadership in them, the bottom line is that some leaders fail because they are either: a.) Not the leader they think they are, or b.) Promoted above their leadership capacity/leadership role has outgrown them, or c.) Not a visionary, or d.) Not a leader at all!  They are lacking what it takes!

Remember: Just because someone has an office, role, title, or responsibility doesn’t mean they are a leader.  Leadership is an art, a skill, a craft, a gift… and it must be developed!  A leader must have the ability to inspire people to do more, be more, and go farther.  If a leader lacks genuine followers or lacks what it takes to be a leader, they aren’t leading; they are simply going on a walk.