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Leaders that Sabotage Themselves: Part 1

Posted on June 18th, 2013

According to Robert Hogan, an industrial psychologist and professor, two-thirds of the people currently in leadership will fail; they will be fired, demoted, or “kicked upstairs.” The most common reason will be their inability to build or maintain a team. (Hogan defines leadership as “the capacity to build and maintain a high-performance team.”) Why? Certain dysfunctional tendencies, which lie outside their awareness and are invisible, only reveal themselves when people are under significant stress or lack rest. These deeply ingrained personality traits cause smart, well-intentioned leaders to act in illogical ways — making poor decisions, alienating key people, missing opportunities, and overlooking obvious trends around them. I have seen many church leaders rise and fall over the last three decades. A friend who teaches leadership at Harvard and Stanford recently introduced me to the research around this theme. See Why CEOs Fail (Dotlich and Cairo). Every leader has significant vulnerabilities and derailers. Great ones are those who are acutely aware of them and manage them well. David, Abraham, and Peter seem to have managed theirs reasonably well. Solomon and Judas clearly did not.

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