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It’s amazing how hopeful we are when we take on a new leadership challenge. In our excitement for the new opportunity we rarely slow down to evaluate the challenges we will face. Chances are that you were brought on the team and recruited based on potential rather than problems. Potential is fun and full of possibility but the reality is that you were probably hired because their were problems that needed to be addressed. When reality hits in our new leadership role it’s clear that we are evaluated not just on reaching potential but also addressing difficult problems in the organization.

In the process of leading there are common traps that we can get caught in. I have served in my current church for over seven years and I often see familiar traps catch me while I am striving to create momentum. Here are a few traps we have to watch out for as we lead…

  • Fatigue // tired leaders rarely lead to their full potential. It’s easy to ignore our need for health (physically, spiritually, and emotionally) in order to chase after progress.
  • Isolation // when pressure is on there is always a temptation to push people away. Isolation just leads to bad choices.
  • Worry // in reality worry is just wasted emotional and intellectual energy. Worry is a key indicator we are relying on our own ability and influence too much.
  • Short Term Thinking // doing what is easy today does not always pay off tomorrow.
  • Grass is Greener Syndrome // that other church, ministry, business, or organization is not perfect…you just can’t see the imperfection.
  • Control // when you fight for control you actually limit your team. Fight to be engaged and informed not always be in control. Let others lead.
  • Approval // you can’t be trapped by the desire to make everyone happy. Leadership is about moving toward the right plan and that’s not always going to make everyone feel good.
  • Overwork // it’s easy to think if we just work longer then things will get better and the truth is that overwork is only useful in focused seasons with clear goals. Overwork might mean you are not empowering the people around you.
  • Blind Optimism // it’s easy to be so focused on progress that we ignore the hard data in front of us to help guide our decisions. Never ignore sound data in favor of blind optimism.

The key to leading well is to see traps coming and avoid them with passion. The quicker we discover our traps the better leaders we will be and the more progress we will see. Do the hard work of evaluating where you are each day and when you see that trap coming move in a new direction!