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7 Common “Ego Traps” for Leaders (Part 2) by Michael Warden, CPCC

Nov 25th, 2009 | By | Category: Coaching Ministry Leaders, [None]

Ego Trap #2: The Stranglehold of Control

Ego Trap #2: The Stranglehold of Control

Ego Trap #2: “If I don’t stay on top of their work, mistakes will be made.”

Translation: “I’m a control freak.” Though leaders would be more likely to describe it in more glowing terms, such as “I have a high value for excellence in all that we do,” “I feel a lot of personal responsibility for the work,” “I just care so much about the quality of all we create,” or the like. Sound familiar? The classic sign of this ego trap is micromanagement, the surprise pop-ins, the constant compulsion to check up on people all the time, to make sure they’re “on top of it,” the second-guessing of decisions they make along the way.

The deeper issue here for leaders is the tendency to delegate responsibility but not real authority. Leaders who fall into this ego trap lose sight of the fact that leadership is a developmental process–for all of us. Help leaders by reminding them that they didn’t get where they are without giving themselves permission to risk and make mistakes. They’ve probably blown it more than a few times along the way. But they learned from those mistakes, picked themselves up, and went on to do it better next time. To lead well, they have to let other people do the same. A leader who can’t allow the people on the team to take the ball and run with it even if it means they’ll fumble and lose a game here and there, then he or she is probably stuck in this ego trap. The leader is a puppetmaster. And they’ve got their people dangling from their strings of control.

So how do you help a leader in this trap “cut the strings”? Sit down with the leader and coach him or her through the issue. Here are some places you might look:

Explore the leader’s relationship with failure. What does he really fear will happen if his people make mistakes? Suppose his worst fear comes true, what then? What would that say about him or his church? Dig down to find the driving motivator that keeps him white-knuckling the reins of control. Then ask, “What kind of relationship with failure do you think God wants for you to have as a leader? If you fully adopted the relationship with failure that God wants for you, how would you lead differently?”

Explore the leader’s willingness to trust. What’s causing her to not fully trust her people? What does she need (from God, herself, or the people on her team) in order to fully trust her people and let go of control?

Focus the leader back on the “big dream.” What kind of leadership environment does he really want to have? What’s his big dream for how he most wants his church leadership team to function? How is his current leadership style helping or hindering his team from experiencing that kind of environment? How does he need to “show up” as leader in order for that dream to become reality?

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One Response to “7 Common “Ego Traps” for Leaders (Part 2) by Michael Warden, CPCC”

  1. Madelin Butler says:

    Excellent posts on “ego traps” thought provoking and challenging. You are spot on and I can’t wait to read the other 5.

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