Why Leaders Make Poor Decisions

When rule-makers become rule breakers, integrity issues are exposed and credibility issues arise.

It’s been hard not to miss the news stories of politicians who travelled outside of the country for any number of reasons over the holidays. The public outrage is legitimate. It’s reasonable to expect that the people who make the rules will be examples of what it means to keep the rules. When rule-makers become rule breakers, integrity issues are exposed and credibility issues arise.

The Leading Influence team has provided chaplaincy care to Canadian politicians for 14 years. We know politicians, and we know that most politicians are good people who care deeply about their communities and the people they serve—those who don’t are a rare exception. We also know good people sometimes make poor decisions.

It’s easy in these moments to pile-on those who chose to contravene the essential travel-only directive. Still, I’m more interested in the leadership lessons coming out of this situation. Here’s what every leader can learn from the current situation.

  1. Entitlement leads to entanglement. Leadership brings power, privilege, and perks. Misused, they become snares in your life that cause you to lose perspective. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is step back and ask yourself if you’d be doing this if you didn’t have the position and privilege you have. If the answer is no, then don’t do it. Taking advantage of your privileges will cost you more than it benefits you.
  2. If you don’t want to read about it on social media, don’t do it! I’ve led long enough to know that what leaders do in secret almost always comes out publicly. When it does, it’s messy, personal, and touches more people than just the leader. Careers, marriages, credibility, and influence are destroyed because of the belief that ‘no one will find out.’ Boundaries exist to protect you. Abide by them.
  3. Staying connected to the grassroots will help you make better decisions. It’s easy to live in a leadership bubble, and it’s even easier to make bad decisions if you only live within it. If your followers would disapprove, then it’s generally not a good idea for you. Asking yourself how your followers will view your idea/plan/decision will help you keep your feet on the ground.

Leadership requires integrity and credibility. Poor choices can destroy years of hard work and sacrifice. Make your choices with that in mind!

Lead well, friends. Your influence matters!

— Tim Schindel
National Director
Leading Influence