7 Examples of Shallow Leadership

Growing in our leadership abilities — including growing in the knowledge of leadership and the relational aspect of leadership– should be a goal for every leader.

Sadly, many leaders settle for status quo leadership rather than stretching themselves to continually improve. They remain oblivious to the real health of their leadership and the organizations they lead. They may get by — people may say things are “okay” — but it isn’t excellent.

I call it shallow leadership.

Perhaps you’ve seen this before in leadership. Maybe you’ve been guilty of providing shallow leadership. For a season, at least. I certainly have.

Still wondering what shallow leadership looks like?

Here are 7 characteristics of shallow leadership:

Thinking your idea will be everyone’s idea. You assume everyone is on the same page. You think everyone thinks like you. You stop asking questions of your team. You stop evaluating. 

Believing that your way is the only way. You’re the leader — you must be right. You’ve had some success. It went to your head a little. So, you’ve become head strong. You’re controlling. You make every decision. You never delegate.

Assuming you already know the answer. You think you’ve done it long enough to see it all. You quit learning. You stop reading. You never meet with other leaders anymore. 

Pretending to care when really you don’t. You have grown cold in your passion. You may speak the vision but they’re just words to you now. You go through the motions. You’re drawing a paycheck. But, truth be known, you’d rather be anywhere than here right now.

Giving the response that makes you most popular. You like to be liked. You never make the hard decisions. You refuse to challenge. You avoid conflict. You run from complainers. You ignore the real problems.

Refusing to make a decision. You had a setback. Things didn’t go as planned. You’ve grown scared. You’re overwhelmed. You refuse to walk by faith. Your team won’t move forward because you won’t move forward.

Ignoring the warning signs of poor health. Momentum may be suffering. Things may not be “awesome” anymore. You look the other way. Your soul is empty. You may be unhealthy. The team may be unhealthy. You refuse to see it.

We never achieve best with shallow leadership. The first step is to admit. 

Have you seen shallow leadership before? What would you add to my list?

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49 thoughts on “7 Examples of Shallow Leadership

  1. I love it when you write something that connects so well. The sad thing is that this is so true among so many leaders.

  2. So many great comments and an awesome post today!!! I have one:

    Shallow leaders:

    Hold on to their "master plan" so tightly that it crumbles and they spend their time trying to pick up the pieces.

  3. Shallow Leaders
    – only associate themselves w/ ppl that tell them yes
    – look for a way out before they ever commit
    – won’t persevere
    – dress right / do nothing
    – refuse to give credit
    – build their esteem instead of the teams
    – discuss the symptoms & ignore the issue
    – talk a big game, but won’t get in the trenches

  4. My question is…how many spouses/parents are shallow leaders? We need to watch out for these things in our marriages/families as well. I'm guilty as charged. Thank you for the opportunity to grow and change.

  5. Shallow leaders,
    – worship crowds and fear and avoid individuals.
    – undermine the missional sending capacity of the local church.
    – never foster Kingdom culture.
    – Prefer clean stables, over messy oxen.
    – usually very sub-culturalized and ingrown.

  6. ha! ok good, cuz i've got a few more! 🙂

    Shallow leaders raise and attract good followers rather than good leaders. They find raising or leading true leaders cumbersome, time-consuming and messy and an impediment to the process. (followers say, "ok" leaders ask, "why?".)

    Shallow leaders feed off the praise of others; it's their personal measuring stick for success.

    Shallow leaders take criticism – no matter how well intended – personally rather than objectively.

    Shallow leaders will blame anyone and everyone before taking responsibility for poor leadership. (It's not always the devil opposing you, sometimes it's just poor leadership.)

    Shallow leaders rarely realize they're shallow leaders; they fail to understand that following all the "rules of leadership" does not inherently make you a good leader.

  7. Viewing people who disagree with you as a threat to your leadership rather than an asset providing you with a perspective you don't possess.

  8. Two more for the list.

    Public belittling of people that don’t agree with your view

    Having a “Don’t let the door hit you in the but on the way out” attitude.

  9. I have worked for some that thought everything was abouit them: If it’s good, it’s all them; if it’s bad, it’s what others are doing to them!
    Twitter: bryankr

  10. Great post Ron! I would also add that one sure sign of shallow leadership is the prevalence of employes, and the lack of spiritual sons and daughters. The difference b/w a servant and a son shows up when inevitable problems and difficulties arise. A son fights, while the servant get's on the next flight…

  11. I wouldn't call that person a leader. They may have a title that puts them over people. But I feel sorry for the folks under them.

    I would add "Doing everything yourself and then complaining nobody is helping you"

    • Thanks Laurinda. I always struggle with when to give someone the privilege of being called leader also. Good add
      Twitter: Ronedmondson

  12. Great post! Here are two more I can think of:

    Failing to see the potential in others and nurturing it
    Interfering in a task you have given to another