6 Mental Mistakes of Leaders

March 5, 2012

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When we see the ordinary events of our lives begin to intersect with things we are reading and studying, it usually means God is trying to get our attention.

I posted on Friday about “Losing the Plot” in our lives and ministries. Literally hours later, I found myself reading a portion from The Executive and the Elephant: A Leader’s Guide for Building Inner Excellence by Richard L. Daft that added another stream to my contemplation.

While not a Christian oriented book, the leadership principles of the inner life affect how we view events and circumstances.

Daft says, “Our perceptions are based more on our needs and biases than on external events or reality…most distortions are in our favor

In light of this, he lists Six Mental Mistakes Leaders Make. Here they are:

1. Reacting Too Quickly – As leaders we often jump before we have heard all the facts. Many leaders need to be reminded not to interrupt someone. Our emotions can also cloud our judgment or perspective. A leader of mine once taught me to think long and hard before sending that confronting email. Often, you are reacting and end up regretting your actions.

2. Inflexible Thinking – Most nation’s political parties embody this mistake. You can have the same idea come, and depending which party proposed it, people are either for or against it. Your view cannot be changed even in light of the facts.

3. Wanting Control  – Many leader’s like to be in the driver’s seat. This makes it hard to delegate, or when you do, it leads to dirty delegation. Have you ever found yourself sitting in the passenger seat, pumping an imaginary brake pedal? Its about control!

4. Emotional Avoidance and Attraction – Avoidance rears its head in procrastination, lack of discipline, and resistance. Attraction is demonstrated with perfectionism, self promotion, and needing to always be right.

5. Exaggerating the Future – This occurs with distorting time estimates, goals, and budgets. This one is particularly difficult when faith intersects with the business side of things. God can give us dreams that are well beyond us. This can even be a sign that the idea is from God and not ourselves. We need to balance out faith for the impossible so it is not blind optimism, with no regard for reality. This is a lesson my organization, Youth With A Mission, runs the razor’s edge on. Sometimes we walk blind, sometimes we walk in faith.

6.Chasing the Wrong Gratification – Seeking external or temporary rewards at the expense of a long-term solution. In missions, we don’t want to mortgage our future for the sake of short-term success.

We constantly need to assess our perspective to see if it passes the accuracy test. This happens in both leadership and in life. How many of the following scenarios can you identify with?

– Husbands and wives engage in the same mental exaggeration when they overestimate their contribution to housework.

– Most people believe they are in the top 10 percent of getting along with others.

– Most believe they have above average intelligence.

– 90% of drivers consider themselves to be safer than average.

The main take away is the potential for inconsistency between our view and reality. We need other people and perspectives to help us see life in an accurate light.


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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God