Over the years in my consulting work with churches, ministries, and nonprofits, I’ve seen far too many cases of leader’s personality overwhelming their purpose. For instance, here’s a few situations where personality traits were actually toxic:
One pastor was so driven by his emotions, that his entire staff waited every morning on eggshells to see what his mood would be for the day. Literally, whatever emotion he was feeling when he arrived at the office would become the attitude of the entire team. If he showed up in a good mood, the staff knew it would be a good day. But he showed up angry or upset, the day was going to be miserable. His personality controlled his entire team.
A nonprofit leader loved to recite her business background at the start of every meeting or conversation. Over and over she would remind the staff of her previous experience and expertise in the business world. She was terribly insecure, and used every opportunity to establish her credentials as the boss. For instance, she loved to berate staff members in front of the team, so she regularly humiliated her employees, and was convinced that doing it publicly would earn their respect.
A pastor was so undisciplined that he would regularly show up for meetings two hours late. Multiple times a week his team would literally sit in a conference room for up to two hours waiting for him to show up for a meeting he had called.
We all have personality traits that are good and bad, and it’s important that we make the effort to control the traits that are potentially damaging to our leadership.
What are some of my personality problems? I’m a bit hyperactive. As a result, I want to complete people’s sentences, and keep things moving. I hate meetings. I’m not very patient. I’m interested in action. Don’t tell me how deep the water is, just bring in the boat. Don’t tell me about the labor pains, just show me the baby.
As a result, I have to stay aware of those tendencies and manage them if I’m going to be an effective leader. In some situations those personality problems can actually help, but if unchecked, they could damage my career.
The question is – what personality problems are you bringing into the office? What personality issues are blocking your effectiveness as a leader? Which ones are undermining your career?
When we think of personality, we normally think of positive traits. But great leaders see both sides of the coin, and know when it’s time to keep their negative traits under control.