church leadership

Mistakes Every Leader Should Avoid

As soon as the conversation ended, I realized I was in the wrong. My team member was trying to pitch an idea, and instead of receiving her thoughts and helping expand them, I was shooting them down. I was not listening, I already had a response in my mind, and I believed my idea was better. The outcome was frustration, and after recognizing the conversation was not going anywhere, we decided to revisit the topic later. For the rest of the day, I wondered, “Was it worth being right even if I was wrong with getting there?”

The next day we reconvened, and I apologized. She dared to tell me how she was disappointed and hurt by my lack of reception. I should have made sure she said everything and had a chance to explain her whole plan without limiting the process. As a leader, I made the mistake of being quick to listen and slow to speak.

Leadership is hard because we’re trying to protect the vision and mission while allowing others to shape what we do. And because leadership is hard, we have to realize that we will make mistakes. But, there are three mistakes we should avoid it is:


Leaders should know how to delegate and be willing to roll up their sleeves to take on any task. Your parish might have a cleaning crew come to your parish, but that doesn’t mean you can’t empty the trash. When you act as if you are above specific tasks, you devalue those who hold them. Delegating is sharing in the mission of the Church; it’s not passing off less critical things to less essential people.


I hear leaders complain that their team “doesn’t get it.” When I ask them what that means, they tell me that there are basic tasks that their volunteers or employees don’t do, as if no one has ever told them how to do them. My response is always the question, “When have you told them?”

Your team doesn’t know what they don’t know. If no one has ever told your team members how to do what you want them to do, then your expectations are too high. As a leader, you have to communicate consistently and with clarity. Whether it’s the mission statement or how to navigate the parish database, don’t assume someone knows; teach them.


You might be in charge, but you should never have to say, “I’m in charge!”. If that happens, there is a lack of clarity and respect. If you feel like people on your team are not following your leadership, it’s an opportunity to step back and look at the bigger picture. In this situation, it’s best to get guidance from a coach or trustworthy peer and have them help you determine whether:

  • Pride is driving your behavior and leading to insecurity.
  • You show your team the respect and value they deserve.
  • Communication is clear.
  • The right people are on your team (The problem is not always you).

Again, it’s essential to do this assessment with another person who can pray with you, help you take an objective look, and speak truth into your life. Another reason we use the “Boss Card” is because we’re tired and feel like another aspect of our life is out of control. The way to avoid this mistake is by focusing on your formation. Healthy leaders are self-aware of how they feel and can address these concerns before they blow up.

Leadership is hard, and you will make mistakes. While it’s okay to be human, it’s essential to continue to grow. To avoid these mistakes and others, make sure you:

  • Build an accountability team that checks in with you regularly
  • Learn from leaders that hold the characteristics you admire
  • Allow God to shape and form you consistently

If you make a mistake, make sure you own them, learn from them and respond with love and humility. We’re not showing weakness when we admit to our mistakes; instead, we give our team permission to be vulnerable and bold. And a team that permits people to be authentic is a team that can take on any challenge.

What other leadership mistakes do you see people make?

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