HUBRIS & Why it is the enemy of good leadership. #HarvardBusinessReview #DeathByPlanningBook

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: One of my books for Abingdon Press is called Growth by Accident, Death by Planning: How not to kill a growing congregation. I looked at churches that were growing and the mistakes they made that usually stopped that growth. One of the mistakes was allowing “hubris” to subtly affect the leader. This article in Harvard Business Review cites research that confirms this hypotheses.

Ego Is the Enemy of Good Leadership

by Rasmus Hougaard & Jacqueline Carter , Harvard Business Review, 11/6/18.

… As we rise in the ranks, we acquire more power. And with that, people are more likely to want to please us by listening more attentively, agreeing more, and laughing at our jokes. All of these tickle the ego. And when the ego is tickled, it grows. David Owen, the former British Foreign Secretary and a neurologist, and Jonathan Davidson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, call this the “hubris syndrome,” which they define as a “disorder of the possession of power, particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming success, held for a period of years.”

… Our ego is like a target we carry with us. And like any target, the bigger it is, the more vulnerable it is to being hit. In this way, an inflated ego makes it easier for others to take advantage of us. Because our ego craves positive attention, it can make us susceptible to manipulation. It makes us predictable. When people know this, they can play to our ego. When we’re a victim of our own need to be seen as great, we end up being led into making decisions that may be detrimental to ourselves, our people, and our organization.

An inflated ego also corrupts our behavior. When we believe we’re the sole architects of our success, we tend to be ruder, more selfish, and more likely to interrupt others. This is especially true in the face of setbacks and criticism. In this way, an inflated ego prevents us from learning from our mistakes and creates a defensive wall that makes it difficult to appreciate the rich lessons we glean from failure.

Finally, an inflated ego narrows our vision. The ego always looks for information that confirms what it wants to believe. Basically, a big ego makes us have a strong confirmation bias. Because of this, we lose perspective and end up in a leadership bubble where we only see and hear what we want to. As a result, we lose touch with the people we lead, the culture we are a part of, and ultimately our clients and stakeholders.

Read more at …

STRATEGY & Is Yours Deliberate or Emergent?

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Henry Mintzberg, in his classic “Strategic Management Journal” article (see link) pointed out that there are two types of strategies: deliberate & emergent. I explored this difference for the church in my book “Growth by Accident, Death by Planning: How NOT To Kill a Growing Church (Abingdon Press). Here is a brief explanation.

  1. “Deliberate” strategies are based upon analysis of strengths, opportunities, etc. (i.e SWOT).
  2. “Emergent” strategies occur when unforeseen opportunities are taken advantage of, sometimes accidentally. Emergent strategies are almost impossible to replicate. But in the church world this is often when we see rapid church growth.

The lesson from Mintzberg’s classic article is to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities, but to spend the majority of your time making deliberate long-term plants.

Strategic Managemtent Journal, Vol. 6, 25 7-2 72 (1985)

Of Strategies, Deliberate and Emergent

Faculty of Management, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Faculty of Administrative Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Deliberate and emergent strategies mnay be conceived as twvoends of a continuumn along which real- world strategies lie. This paper seeks to develop this notion, and So?le basic issuies related to strategic choice, by elaborating along this continum various types of strategies uncovered in research. These includclestrategies labelled planned, entrepreneutrial, ideological, umZ1brella, process, uinconnected, consensuts anld im-posed,

Download the journal article here …,%20Waters%20(1985).%20Of%20Strategies,%20Deliberate%20and%20Emergent.%20SMJ.pdf

ACCOUNTABILITY & My Learning Exercise For Leaders To Evaluate Their Accountability

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 7/6/15.

Accountability!  As church leaders we know we need it.  Still, there is something in us that makes us want to chaff at the idea of answerability, perhaps for fear of tyrannical abuses.  In my chapter “Missteps with the Centrality of Christ” in the book Growth by Accident, Death by Planning (Abingdon Press) I suggest that having loving, compassionate, and genuinely altruistic guidance is necessary if we are to grow churches that are guided by healthy pastors.

Here is an exercise I’ve developed to help you understand how you are doing in this area.

GBA_Med11.  Do you HAVE an effective accountability group?  If so, describe how it functions in one paragraph and share what you wrote with someone.


2. If you do NOT have an effective accountability group, describe in one paragraph what an ideal accountability group might look like and give some steps to fostering one.

This is a great short exercise to help us learn from our friends various processes, principles, associations, and structures that can help us stay connected during the growth process with our mission field, our family, and our Lord.