Many times a leader can be clueless about the real health of the organization they lead. If a leader refuses to solicit feedback, or doesn’t listen to criticism or stops learning, they can begin to believe everything is under control when in reality things are falling apart around them.
I once watched as a church crumbled apart while the pastor thought everything was wonderful. He always had an excuse for declining numbers and never welcomed input from others. It got bad enough for the church to have to ask him to leave. It was messy. It could have been avoided, in my opinion.
And, sadly, this could be the stories of hundreds of churches and organizations.
The best leaders, however, avoid what I call the leadership vacuum.
I have heard the term leadership vacuum used to describe the need for more leaders, but I believe the biggest void may be within leaders themselves.
The leader in a leadership vacuum believes:
Everyone on the team understands me. It can be equally as dangerous if the leader believes they understand everyone on the team. Healthy team dynamics require a constant discovery of others, asking questions, exploring who people are and where they are currently in their thought processes.
Everyone on the team thinks like I think. This would often be easier, wouldn’t it? The fact is, especially if it is a healthy team, everyone thinks differently. Remembering this and using it to the advantage of the team is a key to good leadership.
Everyone on the team likes me. And, if this is the case they probably also think everyone is glad they are the leader. Being the leader is not a guarantee of popularity. There is a level of respect which a position of leadership brings, but likability is based on the person – not the job title.
My team is completely healthy. We all like to think so, and we like to think we are healthy as leaders. The truth is health is often a relative term. Teams and leaders go through seasons of good and bad and a constant awareness of where we are at any given time is critical to maintain health long-term.
They couldn’t do it without me. And, pride goes before the fall also. Humility is not only an attractive character trait in leadership – it’s necessary for sustainability.
We don’t need any changes. Change is a part of life and a part of every organization. Where there is no change there will soon be decline – and gradual death. Good leaders are good change agents.
Nothing can stop us now. The very moment we think we’ve “made it” we are set up for failure.
When the leader is clueless to the real problems and needs in the organization, he or she is living in the leadership vacuum. The best leaders are aware of the vacuum trap and guard against it in their leadership.
Leaders, have you ever lived in the leadership vacuum? Are you there now?
Have you followed a leader in the vacuum?