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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

14 Oct '11

Ten marks of ego driven leaders

In an ironic twist from the humble and servant leadership of Christ there are many in Christian leadership in the church and elsewhere (lay and professional) who are driven more by ego and personal success than by a desire to see the Gospel advanced. The Gospel becomes the means by which personal success is achieved rather than the Gospel being the primary objective of their leadership. As a psychologist lamented to me recently, "Why are there so many ego driven and narcissistic leaders in Christian ministry?"

What are the signs of ego driven ministry?

First, it is obvious to those around ego driven leaders that it is about "them" and that the relentless drive for better and bigger is about their leader's success rather than the accomplishment of the mission or serving their team.

Second, ego driven leaders often drive their staff rather than serving and growing their staff as they are the means to their success. When staff feel used, it is a sign that this is about the leader rather than about the mission.

Third, ego driven leaders take credit for success and blame others for failure. They may not do this overtly (that would not look good) but they find ways to inflate their own effectiveness and deflect responsibility for failures.

Fourth, ego driven leaders often exaggerate the actual results of their ministries. Any time the stated results don't match the actual results there is eqo inflation going on. This is ubiquitous in missions!

Fifth, ego driven leaders don't empower their staff but rather control them. After all, it is about them and they want to ensure that it stays about them. Empowerment means giving responsibility, authority and therefore credit for results away.

Sixth, ego driven leaders don't often cooperate with other ministries. If it is not their idea it is not worthy of pursuing. They guard the ability to say "we did this," or "this was our idea."

Seventh, ego driven leaders are highly territorial. There is competition with other ministries as if there were a limited amount of gospel results to be had. Further, they actually believe that they have a corner on the market of how they do what they do.

Eighth, the actions and attitudes of ego driven leaders often do not match their spiritual language. Outsiders may not know the gap but insiders are well aware and the gap breeds cynicism.

Ninth, ego driven leaders give little attention to the contributions of other people to the cause of the kingdom. Their attention, focus and energy is all focused on themselves and their ministry. When talking about other ministries they often find subtle ways to denigrate the strategy and results of others. The putting down of others allows them to inflate themselves.

Tenth, ego driven leaders are not open to criticism, dialogue or feedback regarding their own behavior or leadership. Because it is about them they are not open to the feedback of others if is deemed critical. There is a high defensive mechanism. This means that strong leaders around them do not last long because their input is not welcome. Those who will cater to their egos, however, are always welcome.

My advice for those who work for ego driven leaders? Consider finding another leader to work for whose true focus is the advancement of the kingdom rather than the advancement of themselves and their ego's. Why? because using the gospel as the advancement mechanism for ourselves is anathema to everything Jesus taught about leadership in His kingdom. It is never about us. It is always about Him. Something for every leader to think about.