Geiger Leadership Negative TraitsLeaders have major impact on the teams and organizations they lead. Their leadership impacts the direction and the future. Their leadership attracts the type of people who will join the team, and greatly influences the culture. Even the expressions and mannerisms of leaders are often picked up by others throughout the organization. Leaders have a major impact; either for the health or for the harm of those they lead.

But here is a sobering reality for leaders: The negative traits of leaders are amplified through the organization, and the positive traits are muffled. Another way to say this: A leader’s negative traits spread further and faster than a leader’s positive traits.

Negative traits are amplified…

  • If a leader lacks clarity, then the team surrounding the leader will lack clarity, and the lack of clarity will be intensified throughout the whole.
  • If a leader struggles with anger issues, others will catch the disease and express anger to an even greater degree than the leader. If a leader, on a scale of 1-10, is at a 4 in negativity – the leader’s negativity will be amplified throughout the whole. It will spread. Throughout the organization the negativity will feel like a 7.
  • If a leader lacks passion and tolerates mediocrity, then mediocrity will be contagious, even to a greater degree.

Positive traits are muffled…

  • If a leader is crystal clear on mission and strategy, the clarity gets muffled as the direction spreads. Like the classic kid’s game of telephone, messages are often misstated as they spread.
  • If a leader is passionate for excellence, the leader’s passion will be softened as it is translated throughout the whole. After all, few will ask for more than the leader asks.

Leaders must be aware of this reality; the bad will spread more quickly than the good. Because of this, wise leaders ramp up clarity of direction and affirmation of shared values. They know these must be really loud if they are to be heard by all or at all.

Wise leaders also care deeply about their own character. They understand that their negative traits impact those around them and thus impact the entire organization or ministry. More than just the leader is impacted by a leader’s character deficiencies. We all have struggles and imperfections, but the sobering reality is that a leader’s are amplified to others.

Eric Geiger is Vice President at LifeWay Christian Resources. He has authored several books and blogs frequently. Follow him on Twitter here.

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