Leadership Lesson 1: Fight Arrogance. Know What You Don’t know
Arrogance is a downfall of many talented leaders who start believing in their own PR and fail to ask for help. I just got off the phone with a young entrepreneur who has started what I call a “socially redemptive business”: proceeds from the business fund not-for-profit organizations. I love the energy, vision, passion, and commitment I heard during our phone conversation. But no amount of enthusiasm or sheer determination will help my new friend out when he makes a critical marketing or business mistake. Unlike what we have experienced from our parents or our favorite teacher, life does not grade us on intentions, but on execution. That’s when the voice of wisdom and experience can be critical to a leader. No matter your age, a wise leader knows when to ask for help before it’s too late.
I count as a privilege to be able to advise some pretty amazing people. They are pastors, business owners, executives, and ministry heads. I take this role seriously because I know what’s at stake for them. As I think of the value that competent professionals have had in my life, I thank God for the good counsel I’ve received over the years. But I also have the scars from the landmines I’ve walked on due to ignorance, or worse, bad advice.
Whether you need a lawyer, accountant, marketing strategist, or an IT engineer, a good adviser will help you:
- See the opportunities you might not see from your vantage point
- Avoid the the land mines only experience can uncover
- Ask the questions you don’t even know you should be asking
- Connect the seemingly random “dots” of your pursuit
- Say “no” to something good so you can say “yes” to something great
- Be intentional
- Take calculated risks
- Figure out what only you can and should be doing for the organization
- Protect you from yourself
- Protect your business or ministry from a bad deal that can put an end to it
I usually trust my instincts, but sometimes they are not enough. Good counsel has stopped me from making big, costly, and even disastrous mistakes. I work with large churches. I used to lead one. There’s a prevailing “we are smarter than anyone and we can do everything in-house,” attitude that often plagues these organizations. No one knows everything and you cannot be an expert in every area of your business or ministry. It’s foolish to think you can do it.
Sometimes the best thing you can do as a leader is to ask for help before you screw everything up.