Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

4 Things I’ve Learned “Not to Do” from My Leaders


Recently, I wrote about the things that I have learned to do from the leaders I’ve worked with over the past thirty-five years. You can see that article here.   Unfortunately, I’ve also learned what not to do from those I’ve reported to. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned not to do over the years.

  • Yelling and profanity. There is absolutely no need for this – in the workplace, non-profit organization or ministry. It’s like a comedian who needs to use profanity to be funny. If you need to yell and use profanity to be an effective leader, you’re not.
  • Not being engaged. This is when your leader gives the impression that they don’t care about you and/or the work you are doing. In Patrick Lencioni’s book The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, two of the signs he talks about apply here.
    •  Anonymity. Lencioni states that people cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. All human beings need to be understood and appreciated for their unique qualities by someone in a position of authority.
    • Irrelevance.  Lencioni writes that everyone needs to know that their job matters, to someone. Anyone. Without seeing a connection between the work and the satisfaction of another person or group of people, an employee simply will not find lasting fulfillment.
  • Playing favorites. I’ve worked with leaders who played favorites. Seeing that behavior modeled was a good lesson for me, and I’ve tried to be aware of not doing the same. My approach is that while I don’t treat everyone exactly in the same manner (some may need a more direct approach and some a softer approach), I do treat everyone equally fair.
  • Being late. This again goes to the respect issue noted above as one of the basic things we can expect from our leaders. When you are late to meetings you are not showing respect to those who are waiting for you. I once worked in a department where the department head was so consistently late that his division heads would actually tell him that meetings started fifteen minutes earlier than they did so they would have a better chance of him showing up on time. And just recently I saw the impact on one of my team members of a leader consistently showing up late to their meetings, if they showed up at all. Understanding that there will occasionally be reasons for running late, respect the time of those you are meeting with and don’t make it a habit of being late.
  • Leaders who shouldn’t be leaders. I worked with a person who was what I would call a reluctant leader. They were in a leadership position, but that wasn’t playing to their strengths. They tried, but leadership was not something they wanted to do, nor were they particularly good at it. As Marcus Buckingham would say, leadership “weakened them”. They were able to bring in someone to the organization to handle that work and then they could focus on their areas of strength.

Fortunately, my “What to Do” list was much longer than my “What Not to Do” list. How about you? What would you have to add to the “Not to Do” list?

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

3 thoughts on “4 Things I’ve Learned “Not to Do” from My Leaders

  1. Good stuff!

  2. Pingback: In Appreciation of Our Leaders | Coram Deo ~

  3. Pingback: Making Your Church a “Leadership Factory”: A Short Course on Leadership | Coram Deo ~

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