Three Statements that Can Wreck Your Leadership

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Attitude is a funny thing. How we view the world—and the things that the people we lead perceive that we value—is shown in small interactions over a long period of time. For instance, it doesn’t matter how often a CEO of a retail chain says that he values the customer; if his conversations and small, daily choices show otherwise, those around him who know him best understand what he really values.

The things that we talk about and the things that we say in the small moments reveal what we really value. It could be that what you’re communicating in those small moments is that what you really value is…you. These three statements—if you say them too often—have the potential to wreck any positive influence you have on the people you lead.

“I did”

There’s nothing wrong with a deep satisfaction about something you worked hard to accomplish. When you put some hustle and sweat into a project or initiative, it feels good when it actually works out the way that you hoped. But if most of your statements out of your mouth are along the lines of “I did,” you might be taking most of the credit for something that was a team effort. If you want to chip away at your team’s morale, start taking too much credit for yourself rather than giving it to your team. In addition, “I did” statements in ministry fail to give credit where it’s really due: to the One who works in the hearts of the people you are serving, and who enabled you to do what you do in the first place.

“I am”

When you’re the leader of a department, organization, or local church, it can be tempting to frequently remind others that what you say goes because, well, you’re the one in charge. When you rely on your position or title to motivate others—especially when that title allows you to decide who keeps their jobs—you’re not really leading people; you’re just scaring them. “I am” statements that point to your credentials or title don’t inspire or influence people. They just remind people that they have to do what you say, even though they don’t want to.

“I will”

Confidence is a must in a leader. But overconfidence in yourself, your talents, your ability to control all future events comes across as a lack of humility. “I will” statements communicate that you are more interested in your own success than the success of your team. In addition, and “I will” attitude tries to take control of our future from God, who is the only who is really sovereign over our future, anyway.

Instead, try:

  • We did…
  • We are…
  • We will…

And better yet:

  • God did…
  • God is…
  • God will…
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