Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make by Hans Finzel

I just finished going through this book with my fellow elders at Cornerstone Bible Church. I wanted to read this book with them because I think so many leaders fail to accurately assess their weaknesses. This problem as leaders is even magnified in the church. We fail to look in the mirror and filter through what we are struggling in. That somewhat amazes me, since grace is the key component of our faith. But I guess leaders fail to correctly evaluate themselves because they are scared to see whether they are failing. I was once told by a fellow leader that they do not want to ask for feedback because they are scared they are not connecting with their people.

Well, The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make by Hans Finzel helps leaders accurately evaluate their weaknesses (well, at least ten of them). It is one of the most helpful books on leadership I have ever read. In the introduction, Finzel states his purpose of this book:
"This book is not intended to answer the question of leadership scarcity, but rather to look at what makes a good leader go bad, or better yet, what habits to avoid if you want to help fill the gap and replenish the great leadership famine. It is a resource book for anyone in any kind of leadership role" (15).
He goes on to say that leaders fail because "most of us who lead have neither been formally trained nor had good role models. So we lead as we were led. We wing it" (19). While this book is not exclusively Christian, Finzel does use many church or Biblical illustrations throughout the book. He obviously has some Christian upbringing and church leadership experience. So what are the top ten mistakes?

1.   The Top-Down Attitude
2.   Putting Paperwork Before Peoplework
3.   The Absence of Affirmation
4.   No Room For Mavericks
5.   Dictatorship in Decision Making
6.   Dirty Delegation
7.   Communication Chaos
8.   Missing the Clues of Corporate Culture
9.   Success Without Successors
10. Failure to Focus on the Future

Let me briefly talk about one of the chapters that I felt like is the one area in my leadership that I tend to make mistakes. It is found in Chapter 2: Putting Paperwork Before Peoplework. His subtitle for this chapter is "Confessions of a Type A Personality." That is me. While there are many good things about being a Type A guy, there are many things are not so good.

It is easy for me to get into projects and forget that the point of my job is people! I have grown tremendously in this area over the years, but I do realize I have so far to go. He says, "Leadership is essentially a people business. Experts confirm that the most effective leaders spend most of their time being with people and solving people problems" (49). I know that is true. But I also feel from time to time like I am being interrupted. He says that instead of seeing it as an interruption, look at it as an opportunity (45).
"How are people changed? How is it that we as leaders can influence others to be more mature? The clearest way to answer these questions is to ask one simple question: As you review your past, what has had the greatest impact on your growth as a leader and as a person? Has it been books, lectures, or tapes? Sermons or seminars? Classroom experiences? Every survey I have ever heard about regarding this question comes back with one resounding answer: A person or a number of key people with whom one has had real-life personal contact has been the primary change agent in the person's life" (53).
So, how can we help you, Thad? Glad you asked. First, Feel Free Interrupt Me. Test me. Stop in and see how I respond. See if I see it as an opportunity or as an interruption. Second, Please forgive me. I know that I am in the people business, but I also know that I will fail in this area. So, I ask you now and will continue to ask you, please forgive me when I treat you like it is an interruption. I do not mean to and want to be available for you. Third, Model People-Centered Leadership For Me. If you are in leadership, be the person who does what I am saying we all need to do. I know that many of you are much better at this than I am, I can learn from you.

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