is a dangerous and destructive place for leaders. Though it’s important for leaders to meet together and discuss some things in private confines…isolation is an immediate danger. In isolation:
- Working together feels more like employment than partnership. Great leaders and leadership structures facilitate environments of partnership which foster creativity, value dreams, mentor and trust other leaders, listen to opinions, learn from mistakes, balance the mission of the organization, and evaluate frequently (with the people directly affected by the evaluations). Good leaders and leaderships delegate often, listen to opinions, evaluate regularly (sometimes on their own, and sometimes with those directly effected)…but are intimidated by mistakes, and haphazardly implement new leaders without adequate training. Poor leaders and leaderships seek to control by position, to make all decisions, critique often, and easily lose sight of the overall mission of the organization.
- Intimidation replaces creativity, quickly. Fear of failure, ridicule, or blame stagnates current and prospective leaders. Due to isolation, the vision remains vague and unshared…and leaders are perceived to be daunting. Great leaders and leaderships communicate openly and often to avoid the perception of isolation. They share stories and struggles regarding the vision, and frequently ask for help. Good leaders communicate regularly. They share immediate needs and ask for help. Poor leaders communicate when necessary. They share criticisms and dangers…and generally want people to know they’ve got everything under control.
- Closes the door and keeps people away. Isolation, of course, communicates separation. In an organization (and especially, within a church or movement), separation is detrimental toward the future of the organization. Great leaders frequently bring others in to the meeting rooms. They listen to people who have a knowledge of the questions they are asking. They seek to mentor, train, empower, and guide young and new leaders…embracing new ideas, passion, and unique opportunities. Good leaders have regular planning meetings with other people. They read and seek out advice. They hold training sessions for new leaders. Poor leaders close the doors, rarely allow glimpses into the leadership processes, and read little material and listen to few people regarding issues they struggle with.
- Gets in the way of the overall vision. It’s a sad reality when vision is lost due to leaders who love isolation more than momentum. Great leaders continually talk, celebrate, and re-fine vision. Good leaders regularly talk vision and occasionally celebrate it. Poor leaders rarely talk about vision; and often bullet point it on a powerpoint presentation.
Whatever you are leading, remember this: refuse to be isolated. Some leadership structures (and some organizations) will actually pull you toward isolation…but, never give in. Leadership is a trust, not a privilege. May we seek to be, and create, great leaders.