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Have You Ever Been Placed in Leadership Time-Out?

Recently in Costa Rica I saw a tradition that’s common in my country too.  A child was placed in time-out…  For a certain amount of time, a child is not allowed to play with the other children, has to sit in a corner and is basically ignored. I’m certainly not critical of the form of discipline. It works well for some children. We had one for which it would work and one for which it wouldn’t.

I definitely, however, believe there is a time when a “child” outgrows the effectiveness of the practice.  I don’t know that “time out”, for example, works for adults, yet I see it frequently.

Have you ever been placed in leadership time-out?

Leadership time-out occurs:

  • When a leader ignores you because of a mistake you’ve made…
  • When a leader avoids you after a difference of opinion…
  • When a leader is threatened by you so he or she keeps you at a distance…
  • When you have no relationship with the leader other than professional…
  • When a leader acknowledges you only when it’s beneficial to the leader…
  • When a leader has a set of “favorites” on the team…and you’re not included…

After my examples, let me ask again, have you ever been placed in leadership time-out?

In my opinion and experience, leadership time-out is often due to poor leadership skills on the part of the leader.  The leader operates more out fear or control than out of respect and empowerment.  The leader plays games more than he or she leads strategically.  The leader doesn’t have the maturity to lead effectively.

Great leaders learn to push through the emotional aspects of leadership so they can treat people as adults in every situation.

What other examples would you add to my list?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • @not2lindsay says:

    Hello, Arrow. My name is Target.

    Yes. I've been in *all* of the mentioned forms of time-out. And I was put in each of those different forms by the same leader at one point or another.

  • Yep. Been there. Experienced that. Glad to see I'm not alone. One perspective to add:

    The Technology-Enabled Leadership Timeout:
    You may be speaking to them or presenting on a topic and the leader is disinterested or objects, so they….
    A. Turn to their computer and begin typing
    B. Begin reading messages on their Blackberry
    C. All of the above

    Yeah, that was my favorite. Had one leader who was famous for this. You knew the person did not like your idea if the Blackberry came out…

  • Penny Ng says:

    on the aspect of the one being put to time out,… is there something he can do to cure the situation?

  • Armando Garcia says:

    Powerful True Stuff Ron! Thanks! Your Posts are always a Blessing!
    I’m a Pastor in Houston,TX. I’d love to connect with you.

  • revtrev says:

    Time out? We've been calling it "put on the shelf". After I felt led to step away from vocational ministry pastors saw me as a threat. The ones who didn't had less experience than faith. So glad to have found a true father who has no fear to let people live their calling. The church needs more of us. The world needs all of us.

  • @CMSExpo says:

    Ignoring followers is commonplace among leaders. Look at most of our politicians today for a great example of rampant "time-out" methods employed, with terrible results.

    When a leader comes along who we can connect to, it's magical.

  • Rich Landosky

    Ron, love this concept. That's the way I've felt by some here in my setting for some years now. About 10 years ago I spoke out about the way a situation was handled here at the church. Because it involved another well loved pastor on staff, some of the elders that were very close to this pastor who was involved and were very influential with the rest of our board, seemed to "write me off." I lost my voice. Anytime I'd say something at an elders meeting, it would be met with blank stares and then they'd just move on with their conversation as though I never even spoke. Its taken these last 10 years to slowly begin building my voice again, but some still won't hear it because I said some things that had to be said 10 years ago. The timeout has been tough but I'm glad God can work even through that.

  • Suzi says:

    Keep it coming. Almost every time you write specifically about leadership I feel like you have crawled inside my past experiences and are speaking truth to me. Thank you for bringing healing to me through your words.

  • artie Davis says:

    That's a good word Ron. What comes to my mind is just a good leader is a "non-threatened humble leader."

  • Kathryn Ansley says:

    This is so clearly identified and written ~ it has happened to me several times (I lead from the "second chair") and I could not understand it nor have a name to describe it by when I sought advice from a trusted elder mentor. Thank you.

    • ronedmondson says:

      Thanks Kathryn.

      • Kathryn Ansley says:

        So how do we deal with this? Especially if the leader would not "see it" if they were approached with this concept.

        • ronedmondson says:

          Kathryn, that's a great question. This may be the subject of another post, but I think my answer would be similar to how to deal with a controlling leader:

          You have to decide whether or not it's worth confronting. Much of that decision will be based on how long you are actually in time-out. Sometimes, if the leader keeps you there for a short time, it may not be worth the confrontation. If it lasts for months or more you may have to enter conflict. I've written about that here:… and here:

          It's a difficult situation and most of us would rather it could be handled without conflict, but this deals more with a personality than it does an organizational structure. Of course, the organization suffers with this type of personality.

  • @RickRouth says:

    I thought this post was going to be one about "church discipline." Too often we've all seen the leader which comes out and confesses a mistake they've made, followed by a response of shunning by their leaders. We see that the person is being told "why don't you step aside for a short time and come back," but they are then excluded from ALL discussions and activities. (For instance, a Sunday school teacher might not even be welcome as a student in the class they taught the week before.)
    The difference between children and adults is that children must remain standing in the corner — adults can, and do, leave. When the leadership of the church is not interested in regaining their brother, he often has little choice but to seek greener pastures and start a new church-life. Neither side of this equation results in love for a brother!