Symptoms that Your Leadership May be Headed for a Fall

As long as we follow leaders, we will follow leaders who fall.

This, like eyesight that eventually fails, is a reality of humanity.

The truth is, though our tendency is to see our failures, shortcomings and lack of achievements as experiences that create *holes inside of us…some of our biggest holes come from our greatest successes.

It is not that we are bad people.  It is just that it is not in the nature of humans to handle power well.

{I know of what I write.  I have lived with a strong leader.  I have also watched him fall.  Nothing about it was easy.  All of it affected other people.}

One of my silent motivators for writing my new book, {w}hole, was to help people see humanity in those we elevate.  People who take stages are not perfect.  At the same time, as leaders, we are not recused of being purposeful about our integrity.

Today, on Michael Hyatt’s blog, I offered 5 Truths to Remember When Your Leader Falls.  I wrote this for the tribe members who have or will experience the pain of a fallen leader.  If you have not read this post, I strongly encourage you to do so after reading this post.

There, I offered encouragement to tribe members.  Here, I offer a preventative word to leaders (ministry leaders, in particular), proposing 4 symptoms to look for that suggest when your leadership may be headed in a dangerous direction.  Please know that even as I write this, I sit among you, taking my own inventory.

1) When you find yourself less willing to serve when there is no audience. Having a level of influence over a tribe of people is a great honor.  But giving speeches, signing books, or preaching from the stage of a church is not enough. Private service is not only Biblical (Matthew 6), but it is beneficial.  Doing things that may never become known is something that fuels our integrity, brings us fulfillment, and helps buoy within us the character it takes to lead people well.

2) When you constantly pull the they are jealous or out to get me card. Because leaders stand in the light, we are often targets of those who envy our platform, which sometimes leads to vocal opposition.  Yet this is not the case with all people who may not be our fans. A leader that constantly defaults to a mindset of they are just jealous or they are out to get me when they experience any type of push back or differing opinion sits in a risky place.

3) When you try to manipulate respect.  Leaders who do not take the time to care for their tribe will not have lasting influence with them.  While it is important to have faithful, trustworthy tribe members in our corner, demanding respect by creating a stringent system the tribe must follow will never benefit anyone, including the leader who seeks to put it in place.  This type of rule by intimidation suggests insecurity, fear, or an unwillingness to do the work to become the kind of leader that people are naturally drawn to follow.

4) When you constantly put yourself in situations that feed your ego.  The way we seek accountability shows our true character.  When our accountability structure is composed of people who bend things in our favor, it is of zero benefit to us and is set up to feed our need for approval.  Surrounding ourselves with truth-tellers who have nothing to gain or lose from us is vitally important, just as is being willing to travel in circles that help us keep it real.

While not an exhaustive list, the honest evaluation of where we are, as leaders, with these things may well prevent us from buckling from the weight of expectation, accolade and our own pride.  It is not that prevention preserves us from the very human aspects of leadership.  But coupled with our consistent seeking of our all-powerful Source, Jesus, it can be our check so we may balance it well.

*The definition of holes, as stated in {w}hole: internal voids that are limiting or defining.

Question: What do you see as the most important element to the integrity of leaders?

Leave me a comment and be eligible to win a FREE copy of {w}hole.  Winner announced on Monday.

For today’s post on Michael Hyatt, visit HERE.

To order a copy of {w}hole, visit HERE.

To watch the book trailer, download a FREE chapter one, or download discussion questions and expanded whole story guide, visit HERE.

{And congratulations to Becky and Abby Girl, who commented on my last post and won a FREE copy of {w}hole!}


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    This is not just a great blog it’s a very important one. Whenever we follow anyone who takes the place of Jesus in our lives we are headed in the wrong direction. Leaders will always disappoint us, they are human. I will disappoint others, i am too. Only Jesus doesnt disappoint. When we forget that and find another ”Jesus” we are setting ourselves up.
    Lisa you farther you go with these blogs the better you get. Hang in great events lie just ahead. A hug to you. Joe

  2. Heather P says

    I can see where what you say is true! As for the most important element of a leader’s integrity, honesty rings true for me.

  3. says

    Lisa, I just finished reading [w]hole. It is powerful. I may read it again and soon.
    I think the most important element to the integrity of Christian leaders is their obedience to the truth that the Head of the Church is our Lord Jesus Christ and not them. They are called to serve Christ and not man, regardless of how influential a man may be.

    • Lisa says

      Thank you so much, Adele. I’m grateful {w}hole meant something to you and encourage you to pick it up, again, as God may show you something different the 2nd time around. Be well!

  4. says


    Great blog post Lisa. It seems there is a lot of talk about failing leaders lately. Hopefully these will serve as warnings for those in leadership.

  5. says

    Lisa, thankful to read her about your book – which has been added to my “to read” list. Your list is “on the nail” and speaks straight to the heart of those of us who are leaders. I have seen the paranoia rise in those leaders who lost the purpose of their leadership. As a former missionary in West Africa, I struggled with the “behind the scene” ministry – that I now realize was productive for both the person to whom I ministered and myself.

    Thank you for putting it out there. Blessings on your day!!

  6. Tina Early says

    We just had to leave our church because our pastor was exhibiting this type of behavior, only we were too blind to see it. He went on a mission to get rid of not only my family but other families as well, using any means necessary. It’s not easy to leave your church home and family when it’s not something you really want to do, but something you are forced to do. Even harder to try and explain it to your children. I would add to your list: When you think you can do whatever you want and hurt whomever you want because you’re “in charge”.

    Thanks for the blog. Wish I would have seen it sooner.

  7. says

    Leadership is risk. To mitigate that risk a leader should do their best to lead from a point of integrity, trust, and compassion.

    When a leader falls, other leaders should step up to take on these qualities and help that fallen leader get back up and start again.

    Thanks for a great post.

  8. says

    Lisa, both posts are excellent, this one and the one published in Michael Hyatt’s blog.
    One thing that I’ve seen leaders doing and I think it is always a bad sign is when they start thinking “they’re lucky to have me” (regarding his tribe).
    The leader needs his tribe as much as the tribe needs him.
    And when we look to Jesus as our major example of leadership, he emphasized that the leader is there to serve the community/tribe, not to look down on them.

  9. says

    Wonderful post – great thoughts – and ones I need to take to heart as a leader in a public position. Also, loved the post on Michael Hyatt’s blog (which is how I ended up here!)

  10. says

    Congratulations Lisa on the book! These posts were really good and on point. I think that accountability, real accountability, is key to a leader maintaining their integrity. It’s easy to surround oneself with ego builders like you spoke of in this post, but it’s rare to find those who will keep us as leaders transparent and honest. It’s not always easy, but so worth it when our goal is to lead people to Jesus.

  11. says

    Great posts Lisa, here from Hyatt’s blog.

    I would add “transparency” and “candor” as essential elements of leadership integrity.

    Another warning sign is when leadership categorizes tribe members with a differing perspective as “having a bad attitude”

  12. says

    The things seem to help me as a pastor are 1. Having a great accountability partner in my wife of 30 years – she is quick to point out when I get too big for my britches, and she doesn’t allow me to wallow in pity when I fall flat on my face. 2. A sense of humor and ability to laugh at myself 3. A constant sense of who I am in relation to my Lord Jesus Christ and the importance of communicating what His Word says rather than my opinions, and to love the people He puts me in contact with. I don’t always do that as well as I would like to so I always want to be open to anything that will help me be a better servant to Jesus and the people He wants me to care for.

  13. John Barham says

    What do I see as the most important element to the integrity of leaders? Communication; not only the speaking part for especially the listening part. Hearing is NOT listening!