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7 Dangers of Prideful Leadership

I have frequently preached on the danger of pride.

If you follow this blog, you know I tend to think a great deal about leadership. I have a heart for developing good leadership in the church and in ministry. As I wrestle through this particular Biblical subject, I always think about places I see pride creep into leadership – even my own leadership. If we are not careful, our attempt at good leadership will be derailed by the pride of our hearts.

Remember, “Pride goes before destruction”. (Proverbs 16:18)

Have you ever known (or been) a proud leader?

Here are 7 dangers of prideful leadership:

Refusing to listen to advice from others – Proud leaders “know it all”. Of course, not really, but it’s often their perception of reality. Pride causes people to want you to believe they know more than they actually do. Sadly, their attempt to perpetuate the perception of superiority causes them to ignore the wisdom of others.

Making excuses for mistakes – Proud leaders refuse to admit their errors. They scoff at any insinuation a mistake was theirs and refuse ownership of the team’s failures. It’s always someone else’s fault when goals aren’t reached, mistakes are made or momentum stalls. They don’t learn from times of failure – they try to hide them.

Protecting position at any cost – Proud leaders try to keep others from gaining power or influence. They limit people’s exposure and stifle leadership development. They tend to curtail information and keep power within an arms length of their control.

Taking complete credit for a team’s success – There is only one clear winner on a proud leader’s team…the proud leader. Proud leaders take the microphone first. They have their name on every award. They keep the prime, attention-gaining assignments for themselves. They make sure they are in the “right place at the right time”, so no one steals their potential for applause.

Failing to see personal shortcomings – The proud leader becomes immune to his or her own deficiencies. Pride keeps him or her from getting honest about their weaknesses with anyone, including themselves. Proud leaders are careful to present themselves as flawless, whether in personal appearance or job performance. They may go to extreme measures to cover up any hint of an insufficiency.

Solicit grandstanding on their behalf – You’ll know about a proud leader’s accomplishment. They’ll be the first to start the cheers on their behalf. Proud leaders say things which promote the receiving of positive encouragement or feedback. They’ve been known to stage things so it doesn’t look like they initiated the recognition.

Removing God from the supreme position – Of course, God is supreme; regardless of the leader, but the ultimate danger of a leader struggling with pride is their attempt to remove God from His seat of control. Proud leaders refuse to submit to the will of God, preferring to chart their own path.

What other dangers have you seen in proud leaders?

Be honest – with yourself and God – do you see yourself struggling in any of these areas? Is pride an issue for you?

Remember, “Pride goes before destruction”.

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 22 Comments

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  • onethirdmore says:

    Thanks for this, great to read. There are so many potential downfalls for leaders and I believe, in the main, they relate to fear and pride. Two incredibly negative emotions that can lead anyone astray and cause a whole host of problems.

  • A leader who is proud
    — feels he kows everything. (There is nothing more to learn)
    — feels he is always right and smart
    — never accpets the responsibility for failure

  • Thank you so much for providing to us the dangers. I am not really aware of this but when i read your blog, I have come to realize how this became re;evant and informative to us readers.

  • Kmac4him

    Ouch this hits a nerve. I have been hurt by a "proud leader" I need to forgive! I did learn a lot from the experience, but I don't want to experience it again!!

    Proud leaders who are blinded by their pride can’t really see that they have flip-flop their call to God 1st with a call 1st to a successful ministry with “Self Kudos” deceptively embedded in their will-powered goals! You become their avenue to success instead of their disciple of servant leadership. The Warrior fight is no longer for or about The Kingdom, but for and about cultural title and positional rights. Pride in a leader disrupts Kingdom flow and then ministry becomes all about temporal earthly shows instead of Kingdom gain which is simply-significantly eternal. Organization or Organism? I served a proud leader once and it completely emptied me and left me crashed and burned. Now I serve on a team where our servant leader is called to God 1st, and we are continuously pointed to God, making sure that we are not kindling our own light, walking by a man made fire which will burn out. Prideful leaders walk by a man made fire and they and their team will lay down in torment – been there experienced that! Humble leaders, seeking the heart of God 1st, chasing after God 1st, walk by the Light of God, called to God 1st.

    Man made light propelled by pride or God LIGHT impassioned by humility! Which one do you lead with? Which one does your leadership team walk in? I have been hurt terribly by one and encouraged greatly by the other!

    Isaiah 50: 10 Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God. 11 But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment. New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

  • Steve Morgan says:

    Henry Ford said, Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young." Humility, the opposite of pride, is the start of the continuous learning cycle. When I am aware that I don't know it all, I grow hungry to learn from God and others. Only learning "about" can lead to pride; I must be willing to learn from and with others. With my tendency to strategic planning and problem solving, I have had to overcome learning disability of only learning about and arriving with "the answer". Very deadly to leadership. You hit is on the head: listening to advice of others. Without humility, a leader is unwilling to learn from and others-especially those who are "under" him or her. Thanks for the post, Ron.

    • ronedmondson says:

      I love this comment Steve. Thank you.

    • Pault says:

      Thanks Steve for the post. There is a humorous story about Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Once Mr Ford hired Mr Edison to do some consultant work for him. Mr Edison spent a few hours one day in the Ford plant, and later sent him a bill for 10 thousand dollars. Ford protested the bill saying it was too much for a few hours work. Mr Edison's reply was "I only charged you a hundred dollars for the advice, the rest was for knowing what advice to give". I don't have a point in relating this story. Just thought it was an interesting event in the lives of two famous people.