When Scott Norwood stepped out onto the Super Bowl XXV field at the end of the game on January 27, 1991, he was only thinking about kicking the Super Bowl winning field goal for the Buffalo Bills as time expired. If you’re an NFL fan at all, you know what happened. Wide right. For all of NFL history (or at least for the foreseeable future), Scott will be linked with the phrase and the outcome of “wide right.”
Scott did not go onto the field thinking of failure. He wanted desperately to win the game for himself, his team and all Buffalo Bills fans. He never got a chance like that again. It wasn’t any grievous sin or error he committed. He just made a minor physical mistake and missed wide right.
Leaders, here’s the good news: Scott’s story is not ours. We can look at why leaders fail and help protect ourselves from doing the same. We can recognize our weaknesses and make course adjustments. And, in almost all of our leadership roles, we will get second chances.
To help us learn why leaders fail, here are 6 of the reasons they do:
- Leaders fail when they don’t set the vision. When the vision dies, the leadership dies. When other things crowd in and crowd out our vision as leaders, we fail. Without a revelation the people die is what Proverbs 29:18 tells us.
- Leaders fail when they minimize the enemy. Leaders, we aren’t exempt from failure or untouchable in any way, shape or form. There is an enemy that wants to take you down. Pray for protection and wisdom and against complacency.
- Leaders fail when they don’t protect their team. Bad company corrupts good character is what we read in 1 Corinthians 15:33. Leaders need to protect their “flock.” Go to a person of trouble and confront that individual. If that doesn’t work, report or release him. A little yeast works through the dough. Sports teams will sometimes say that by removing certain bad character players, you go backward to go forward. If you don’t, you can fail as a leader.
- Leaders fail when their personal lives don’t match their public lives. Be a leader of character. Be the same person behind closed doors with your team as you are in public. Be the same person when you’re alone as when you’re with your family. Character and authenticity are antidotes to leadership failure.
- Leaders fail when they don’t communicate properly. Your lack of communication will lead to frustration, failure and confusion. Communicate regularly, openly and specifically to your team.
- Leaders fail when they aren’t representing their group or team. We are to be advocates of our families, our teammates and our employees. Be an advocate of and for those you lead – their needs, their desires and their aspirations.
I can think of several more reasons leaders fail. What would you add to this list?
Live well. Lead well.
Eric Rojas loves his role as the executive pastor of Christ Community Church in St. Charles, IL, where he oversees a staff of 120 and serves alongside Senior Pastor Jim Nicodem. He has been on staff at CCC since 2000.
During his 20+ years of ministry, Rojas has served in churches as a youth pastor, adult ministries pastor, small groups pastor, associate pastor, worship pastor and men’s pastor.
He is a contributing author for Group Publishing’s Men’s Ministry in the 21st Century and has written for various magazines and websites.
Rojas also serves the church-at-large through consulting and seminar presenting.
He has been married to his wife, Rachel, for 22 years. They have 3 children — Luke, 21; Adam, 19; and Chloe, 17.
A man of faith, Rojas believes that next year is the year the Cubs will finally win the World Series.