Leadership, accountability and emotional health

I’ve seen examples where hierarchy curbs the positive impact of life giving fellowship.  I once observed a leader run themselves in to the ground while the subordinates, myself included, did little more than watch.  Why didn’t we say more?  We rationalized that it wasn’t our job, it was the job of someone higher up, while the people higher up thought the same.  We aren’t in charge after all.

It seems to be terribly difficult for leaders to be real with anyone but their closest inner circle, if that.  No accountability mechanism can take in to account our propensity to towards self-deception.  The pressure to perform becomes the pressure to be perfect.  Doubts, fears, insecurities are pushed back out of conscious thought.  Juggling all those thoughts and feelings takes a lot of effort.  It is like holding a ball under water.  It is very easy for that ball to pop back up. 

All that effort saps our ability to process intellectually and emotionally leaving less room for dealing with difficult problems.  It seems to me we put leaders in places that make it difficult to be honest and real, which in turn negatively impacts their emotionally health, which severely impairs their ability to lead.

  1. #1 by Bene D on May 7, 2009 - 2:12 am

    “No accountability mechanism can take in to account our propensity to towards self-deception.

    All that effort saps our ability to process intellectually.”

    You used the personal tense twice, third person more than twice.
    You aren’t my leader, but I know you are a leader.
    I also know you as my friend. What can I do to help?

  2. #2 by Leighton Tebay on May 7, 2009 - 7:12 am

    Hi Bene

    The post isn’t really about me, although it is about people I care about. I tend to be on the other end of the scale. I tend to be more brutally honest about things. I do have people I can be real with and I wish more leaders did.

  3. #3 by Dave King on May 7, 2009 - 3:58 pm

    It creates a negative feedback loop where the people following don’t see the leadership being real, and so don’t feel that they can be real. Worse they come to expect leaders to live up to this unreal standard. My guess, the answers to “Why didn’t we say more?”, that sort of openness simply wasn’t modeled.

    – Peace

  4. #4 by Toni on May 13, 2009 - 9:55 am

    As those who are about to put down leadership in one church and will be shortly taking some of it up in another one, we are trying to draw close to those who actually head it up. We would *like* to help be part of their support mechanism – they’ve run for 6 years in this church with overload, hurt, disappointment and some good fruit, but they *appear* to be doing it alone.

    I don’t know if it will be possible. I like/love them as people, but it’s hard for people in this stream to let others really in. They have their own ‘pastoral’ figures they can turn to, but they are elsewhere in the country. We also have points of friction that need to be dealt with really badly before they get out of hand and sour the relationship.

    I’d agree that it IS easy to just stand back and watch ‘those responsible’ make mistakes or run themselves into the ground.

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