What will prevent leaders from finishing well?

Dr John Ng // February 19, 2021, 11:45 pm


Photo by Lance Grandahl on Unsplash.

Many high profile Christian leaders have fallen to sex scandals and succumbed to temptations. Every time I read these scandals, I become angry and broken hearted.

My heart goes out to their spouses, children and their victims, who will bear the shame and guilt for a long time.

I keep asking myself: What will prevent me from finishing well? 

1. The more powerful I become, the less accountable I become.

“Nearly all people can stand adversity, but if you want to test a person’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln

With power, comes influence.

Power has a way of deceiving me. It subtly corrupts me into thinking I can do anything I like and get away with it.

With power, comes influence.

It is easier for me to convince others that I can do no wrong. Even when I do, I can and will rationalise my actions and behaviours. My followers will agree with me. since they trust me implicitly. If they ever question my “integrity”, I question their loyalty or motivations. That will silence them quickly.

If left unchecked, power has a way of making me less accountable.

2. The more successful I become, the more difficult to get honest feedback.

“Never let success get to your head; never let failure get to your heart.” – Anonymous

Successful people have a tendency to over-rate themselves and their own importance.

I am a sucker for praise and will relish my own publicity. I downplay my own mistakes. The more this happens, the less my subordinates are willing to give me honest feedback about my failures, unless I give them permission to correct me.

Success has a way of blinding me to my flaws.

3. The larger my portfolio of responsibilities, the more I will neglect good habits of rest, reflections and ruminations.

“Beware of the barrenness of a busy life.” – Socrates

The larger my portfolio, the busier I become. The incessant demands prevent me from keeping good habits, which I had so carefully cultivated when I had less responsibilities.

Busyness has become my opiate.

Activities have a way of pushing me to respond to the urgent, and not to the important. I need to keep reminding myself of the non-negotiable.

Busyness has become my opiate.

First, at least seven hours of sleep. I have wrongly convinced myself that I don’t need so much sleep.

Second, I need to reflect more. The busier I am, the less time I have to pause and reflect. As Socrates once said: “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

Third, I need to spend more time with God.

Slowly but surely, I neglect keeping the “important big rocks” and allowing the “urgent small pebbles” to crowd my life. I have to keep reminding myself that how I end does not depend on my ambition or passion but on these habits I keep.

4. The more people I lead, the more I tend to neglect friendships.

“If you hang out with chickens, you are going to cluck. But if you hang out with Eagles, you are going to fly.” – Dr Steve Maraboli

Over the years, I have learned to treasure my friendships, especially my buddies who have served with me over five decades. But the more teams and people I lead, the less time I have for them.

Making time for accountable friends has sustained and refreshed me all these years. But, neglect in relationships will prevent me from ending well.

5. The more capable I become, the more I ignore my dark side.

“Everyone has a dark side. How it exposes us distinguishes us.” – Preeth Pattabiraman

Everyone has a dark side. I call it LFT – Leadership Failure Tendency. It could be pride, anger, past hurt, unforgiveness or sexual sin.

No amount of success or competence can compensate for my dark side.

Some leaders are led to believe one should not talk about the dark side. Instead, we should focus on our strengths and capabilities.

My own experience has taught me that neglecting my LFT and refusing to deal with it will cause my downfall.

My LFT is buried in my sub-conscious and it only takes a trigger to activate it. In reality, my LFT will seep through my work and relationships.

No amount of success or competence can compensate for my dark side. It will not only constantly haunt me but it will ultimately derail me and destroy everything that I have built.

What’s the most important lesson for me?

Instead of throwing a stone at these fallen leaders, as in Jesus’ story of the woman caught in adultery, I would rather search my desperately sinful heart and look deeper into my own soul, to see if there are any wicked ways in me.

I hope and pray that I will end well. I truly need God’s mercy to see me through.

Regardless of fatigue – Finish Well.
Regardless of opposition – Finish Well.
Though tempted to quit – Finish Well.
Complete what you started – Finish Well.
You are on the home stretch – Finish well.
Do what you said you would do – Finish well.
Be a much-needed example for others to see – Finish well.
Remind yourself of all the reasons why you began – Finish well.
Another level of fulfilment and your next assignment awaits you – Finish well.
God is counting on you – Finish well.

This article was first published on NEXLeaders.com and is republished with permission. For a more detailed discussion, check out this micro-learning course: Top 5 reasons why leaders fail.

About the author

Dr John Ng

John is the Chief Passionary Officer of Meta Consulting. He provides transformational leadership development, radical cultural change, and customer-centric consultancy to top international corporations. He serves as Honorary Chair of Eagles Communications, and founded Eagles Mediation and Counselling Centre (EMCC).