I find far too many organizations today paralyzed by a single deadly disease: Leaders who expect their people to follow orders without evidence or justification – as if being the leader somehow places you above defending decisions like everyone else. In companies, you hear executives say: “Trust me…” In churches, you hear pastors say: “I feel God told me…” In non-profits, you hear leadership say: “I’ve been doing this for a long time so…” But no matter which excuse you hear, be very careful. Those types of phrases aren’t said to build support and teamwork, they’re used to shut it down.
Great leaders can back up their decisions, and if they can’t, they tell you why. I’m a great believer in experienced, discerning, intuition. There are many times great decisions fly in the face of the evidence. Sometimes you have to go with your gut. I’m also a believer that occasionally God does reveal prophetic insight. But especially in those times, you have to explain your thinking, allow your team to evaluate it, and buy in – or not.
Raw honesty can make you a stronger leader. In those cases, simply confessing, “Hey guys – I have no idea why I feel this is right, so help me here” can be the smartest thing you can possibly do to build trust with your team.
But too often leaders simply dismiss their team and expect them to take orders obediently like robots. But only the most insecure leaders pull the “Trust me,” “God told me,” or “My experience says,” cards when they don’t really have the answers. The minute you say anything like that, you’re telling your team: “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I can’t let people know it. Plus, I don’t respect the team enough to ask for their advice.”
Being the boss doesn’t put you above justifying your decisions to your subordinates – and when you can’t justify it, don’t coat it in a thin veneer of expected trust, prophetic knowledge, or experience.
The privilege of leadership is earned. Be honest. You’ll find far greater understanding and support.