7 Excuses I’ve Heard for Not Leading Well

In working with other churches and ministries, and in my experience in the business world, it seems we are desperate for good leadership. Organizations and teams thrive on good leadership.

As much as we need good leaders, it seems whenever I meet a leader struggling in their role, rather than admit it could be them, often I only hear excuses. It must be easier to pass blame than to own the problem as our own.

And, in full disclosure, I’ve probably been as guilty as anyone at times in my leadership career.

The excuses, however, are fairly common.

Here are 7 excuses I’ve heard – or used – for not leading well:

I don’t know how.

With each new season in leadership there will be a learning curve. If you’re leading, then your introducing change – you’re taking people somewhere they haven’t been before. This means there will be lots of unknowns in your world for a while. But, don’t use this as an excuse. Learn. Take a course. Get a mentor. Read some books. Ask better questions. Grow as a leader.

I can’t get people to follow my lead.

Well, we may have to check our leadership definition, but don’t give up. If God has called you to this – discover how to motivate people. Most people will follow someone if you’re taking them somewhere they need to go, but aren’t sure how to get there. Make sure you have a vision worth following, learn to communicate well and do all you can to help people attain it. In terms of communicating well – I often tell pastors – you’re best “sermon” may be the one you give to motivate people towards the change or vision. Early in my leadership career I participated in an organization called Toastmasters to help train as a communicator. 

I can’t keep up!

This can be a legitimate excuse at times – leadership can be overwhelming with the amount of change in our world, but we shouldn’t let it remain this way. Leaders have to learn to pace themselves. You have to surround yourself with others who can help carry the load. You can’t try to do everything or control every outcome. Learn delegation. And, don’t try to change everything at once. My rule of thumb is to be working on no more than 3 major changes at a time. This requires patience, because I may see 100 things which need to change. The only thing which works well though when I try to do too much at one time is I get to add to my excuses for not leading well. 

No one taught me how to lead.

And, that’s probably true. I have found many leaders are terrible at reproducing leaders. We don’t apprentice well. So, what are you going to do about it? Leaders find solutions to problems. They don’t let problems become the excuse. Learn from experience. It’s the best teacher anyway. Learn from trying. Learn from watching others. Just learn. It’s never too late to learn something new.

Times have changed.

This is true also. Times have changed. Cultures have changed. The workforce has changed. And, they will keep changing – fast! Good leaders adapt accordingly. They discover new approaches. They don’t make excuses.

It’s my team – I don’t have the right team.

Well, instead of using it as an excuse, you have a few options. Make them a better leader. Get a new team. Or, keep making excuses.

I’m burnout!

This excuse can be real also. It happens to all of us at times. But, don’t settle for this one. Get help. Heal. Rest. Renew. Regroup. Get healthier so you can lead again. Sometimes stopping for a while is your best answer – even amidst the busiest times. 

Honestly, I’m not trying to be sarcastic, arrogant, or unsympathetic. I realize each of these deserve their own post. I really do believe, however, good leadership is mostly finding a worthy vision, recruiting the right people and discovering ways to help people get there. And, we get better the more we practice.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring a spiritual aspect into this – I am a pastor. My best leadership book is the Bible. My best leader example is Jesus. And, I have learned when I am being obedient to Him I lead better naturally. It doesn’t mean everything falls into place beautifully – it does mean I have all I need to lead – even when everything around me is a mess. 

Seriously, look over the list again. Are there any of them that can’t be overcome with a little determination?

Let’s stop the excuses and make better leaders!

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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  • […] 7 Excuses I’ve Heard For Not Leading Well by Ron Edmondson […]

  • edgardo gavino says:

    Nice and inspiring ideas presented here , and i think i can apply such in my current situation as leader. Indeed, there are excuses we made every time we see that we are not doing well in ministries. Well, i needed to learn more. Thank you because i can appropriately apply your wisdom on leadership.

  • jimpemberton says:

    As one who has been guilty of making one or more of these excuses in the past, I wholeheartedly agree. In leadership, it's sink or swim regardless of your excuses. I have to note that most successful leaders I know may have gotten some advice before assuming leadership, but most of their leadership skills were developed as they learned from their mistakes, often by applying such wisdom as found on this blog.

  • ronedmondson says:

    Thanks! I'm considering expanding on all of them. Thanks.

  • Ben Steele says:

    Wow Ron, these are great. Your response to "I don't have a good team" especially caught me off guard. That should be self evident but the human heart is too good at playing the blame game.

    You asked which you should expand first. I would especially like to read that one and "No one taught me."

  • — Feeling that 'None is listening'
    — Not exercising enough trust on the team
    — Not passionate enough to achieve the goals
    — Not ready to travel the narrow path

  • Kmac4him

    Those were great. I think the one "I am burn out" is probably one of the top excuses. I read a book from Lance Witt called Replenish… wow… if you read that book and make changes you learn in it, you probably will never use that excuse again… in fact we could probably retire that one! LOL! Have a great day!

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