Nine Contrasts Between People Pleasing and Principle-Centered Leaders

The general axiom regarding leadership is: If your greatest goal is to please people, become an entertainer; if you want to be a great leader, expect to have continual opposition. Nine Traits of Crowd Pleasing Leaders:

I. They care more about being sensitive than solidifying their team around vision

There are times when you have to take people off your team because their laxity regarding commitment waters down the standard necessary to obtain the goals. Other times leaders have to let certain people go because their qualifications do not match their desire and passion. Faithfulness is not enough sometimes, ability plus faithfulness is the match needed to accomplish purpose. When making these necessary changes feelings are sometimes hurt.

II. They become men-pleasers rather than God-pleasers Remember King Saul’s response to the Prophet Samuel when rebuked for not obeying the Lord (1 Samuel 15:19-24). Saul was removed from being the King of Israel because he cared more for the opinions of men than the favor of God. Truly, “the fear of man is a snare” (Proverbs 29:25) Many elected officials tend to take public opinion polls  and consult focus groups before they do anything of consequence. This may be necessary to guage the attitude of the culture, but  public opinion should never become the plumb line regarding ethical standards. We have too many politicians, not enough statesmen!

III. Their emotional state is dependent upon the affirmation they receive day-to-day

Strong leaders are driven by the vision the Lord has given them, not by the daily conversations and affirmation of their staff, team, and those around them. Those driven by a need for affirmation usually have emotional highs and lows akin to a yo-yo. They are always either very happy or very depressed depending upon other people’s assessment of them.

IV. They don’t have clarity of mind and heart regarding the voice of the Lord

Because they are always subconsciously between two opinions (discerning the voice of God and the will of the people), their spirit is muddled and they become duplicitous. We can only serve one master. God cannot be served if there are other gods in your life.

V. They Don’t Communicate Based on the Full Spectrum of Truth

They only either preach wishy-washy messages, or communicate one-on-one in a way that is postured more to please the listener than to present the truth at hand.

VI. They tend to avoid confrontation and value peace more than victory and truth

They will be one way with one person, then another way with another person. Their desire to be liked is so strong that all their relationships are duplicitous and never reflect core values and principles. Consequently, every person they speak to thinks they agree with them, even those sitting on opposite poles conceptually.

VII. They Tend to Run a Very Informal and Lax Organization

They run a laissez-faire (anything goes) organization that often has very little administrative and organizational excellence. Often, they allow a culture of ease that lacks excellence with an unaccountable environment.

VIII. They tend to overpay their staff

They pay to please rather than remit pay commensurate to the quality and skill of the employee. They reward staff based on personal affection rather than job performance. This “good ole boys club” eventually goes out of business because of under achieving.

IX. They are intimidated by principle-centered leaders

People pleasers are generally intimidated by principle-centered leaders because they do not know how to manipulate them with flattery. People fear what they cannot control.

Traits of a Principle-Centered Leader: I. They Lead Based on Principle, Not on People

The divine vision they have trumps the affirmation they receive from the people. Thus, they are not afraid to make decisions that displease their staff or some of the people they lead. They realize that people will respect them more if they hold to principle than to vacillate based on people.

II. Their hearts and minds are focused on pleasing God first

God-centered leaders are able to hear the voice of the Lord clearly. Their minds and hearts are not weighted down with the worry of pleasing every person around them.

III. They are secure in themselves because they receive their primary affirmation from the Lord

Secure leaders know who they are, what they are called to do and focus on their primary assignments.  Insecure leaders are scattered because they are always saying yes to everyone and never have enough time to get tasks done correctly.

IV. They hold up in unstable environments during opposition to the vision

In the emotional IQ test, the most common trait of a great leader is their ability to handle an enormous amount of stress and their ability to problem solve. Principle-centered leaders have the most upside in these two areas because people who are doing the right thing have more perseverance and clarity of thought.

V. They have organizations built on integrity and truth

Principle-centered leaders have the best chance of building multi-generational organizations because that which is built upon truth will last the longest.

VI. They are not afraid to confront in love

One of the most common reasons for stress in most people is because they bottle up their emotions because they are not willing to confront other people. Hence, they layer their anger, resentment, and pain with busyness and phony relationships that fail to get to the root of the issues. The Bible commands us to confront one another, have transparent relationships, and keep short accounts (Matthew 18:15-18; 1 John 1:7).

VII. They have a stable personality and are consistent

Because their affirmation is from the Lord, principle-centered leaders are upbeat and filled with vision, purpose, and joy because they are living to please the Lord, not the mercurial emotions and desires of people. Those around these leaders know that, no matter what season it is, their leader will always be consistent in their actions and goals.

VIII. They value truth and principle more than peace among their team

They would rather lose a team member than compromise the vision or obedience to the Lord. (Of course, we are speaking about major issues, not minor things we are called to overlook in love.)

IX. They understand that engendering respect is more important than engendering feelings of love

Leaders are not called to be everyone’s close associate or friend. A leader will go a lot further with the gas tank of great respect than that of feelings of love. Principled people will tend to follow a leader they have great admiration and respect for more than a person they merely love. Respect comes from years of having a good track record of accomplishments; love can come after just one deep conversation.