February 5, 2017 Paul Alexander

Overcoming Leadership Lids of Competency and Character

If you lead long enough, eventually you’re going to hit a leadership lid. It happens when you reach your capacity in a particular area. But what you do next has the potential to make or break your leadership future. If you ignore it, deny it, make excuses about it, or refuse to acknowledge and deal with it, you’ll undermine your impact. If you face reality, you’ll create a window of opportunity to grow and break through your leadership lid.

Two common lids leaders run into are the those of competency and character. It takes both to be an effective leader and if you’re in a growing church or organization, at some point you will be seriously challenged by both of these lids:

Your Competency Has the Potential to Outpace Your Character

If you’re highly competent, at some point your competency will lead you to a place where your character is tested. You’ll be tempted to take a shortcut or lead from a skill set rather than from who you are. As a church leader, you’ll be tempted to rely on your experience and your gifts instead of the One who gave you those gifts.

No amount of competency can counteract a fatal flaw in character. It may get you somewhere, but your character will keep you there.

When competency outpaces character, it always leads to a spiritually empty, powerless leader who ends up compromising and failing to accomplish what Jesus could have done through them.

People will only follow you because you’re good at what you do for so long. If they discover you’re not a person worth following, they’ll bail.

When Your Character is Challenged:

  • Pretending you know something you don’t or you can do something you can’t is a character issue. Pretending is rooted in pride, and God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
  • Your character can be measured by the degree to which your public life (the you everyone sees), personal life (the you only those closest to you see), and private life (the you only you see) align. That’s the real, authentic you. The more you can align your public, personal and private life the more authentic leader you will be and the more character you’ll lead with.

Character is No Substitute for Competency

People aren’t going to follow you just because you’re a good, moral person, and just because you’re a high-character person does not mean you’re a leader. They may respect you as a person but they won’t follow you. Those are two different things.

You have to actually be really good at what you do. You need to have the ability to get stuff done, produce results, and get people from where they are to where God wants them to be. People didn’t follow Jesus simply because He’s a high character guy, they followed Him because He’s a brilliant leader. He started the greatest movement in history. He was and is leading people somewhere.

People will only follow you because of who you are for so long. At some point you have to deliver; you have to lead them somewhere.

When Your Competency is Challenged:

  • Don’t be afraid to get the brutal facts and define reality.
  • Listen to new voices outside of your tribe.
  • Get coaching by those ahead of you.
  • Don’t just try harder. Learn new methods. 

You might not be here yet, but at some point you will hit one of these leadership lids. When you get there, it’s vital for you to buckle down and face reality so you can grow and break through your leadership lid.

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Paul Alexander

Paul is a Ministry Consultant with The Unstuck Group. Paul has more than 20 years experience serving in the local church, the last 15 of which have been on the Sr. Leadership Teams of some of the nation’s leading mega-churches. Currently, Paul is serving as the Executive Pastor at Sun Valley Community Church, a large multi-site church located in the Phoenix area.

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