Do you have the disease that’s going around offices, schools and teams these days? It’s really contagious and can be disastrous. It’s called “foot-in-mouth disease.”
By Eric Rojas
It’s the malady that causes us to say things that we recognize very quickly should never have been said and wish we could have put our own foot in our mouth to stop ourselves from uttering. It’s bad.
But, there is a disease that’s probably even worse. The problem is that it’s not nearly as apparent as the dreaded “foot-in-mouth disease” — it’s called the “I didn’t realize that was horrible to say disease.”
As a leader, we can often utter things that really undermine our leadership — and those we lead — if we’re not careful.
Here are four phrases that leaders need to get rid of immediately to help with some of the “I didn’t realize that was horrible to say disease” symptoms.
1) “That will never work.” Ouch. Talk about defeating and deflating. I have found myself saying this to my kids, only to realize later what I did to their hearts. Sorry, Mr. New Employee #157, we’ve tried that before and that will never work. Sure, there are times that we have to harken (Like my use of that oldie-but-goodie word?) back to mistakes and lessons learned. But, don’t just arbitrarily say, “That will never work.” If you do, you will never lead.
2) “I can’t.” Oh my. Don’t you hate when those you lead come to you with problems and don’t have any solutions or reasons? “Sorry, I can’t do that.” As a leader, you want to shout to them: “Figure it out! Figure out how you can!”
Just make sure you’re not saying it yourself.
You heard the saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” It’s even OK to say “I don’t want to” or “I don’t understand” or “Here’s how I can.” But, to just completely say “I can’t” is to say “I can’t … lead.” If you’ve been praying about the topic and seeking God, then guess what? You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13).
3) “It’s not my fault.” The ole throw-someone-under-the-bus game. As leaders, we have to own up to our own mistakes and — catch this! — the mistakes of our teams. The best coaches are those who step up to the podium after a big loss and take the blame for their team’s defeat.
Now, if there are issues that need to be addressed and fixed, by all means address them and fix them. But, do that one-on-one or in a small group, and realize that, as a leader, you are responsible. No buses allowed! It was Jesus in John 8:7 who said, “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
4) “I’ll try.” What does that really mean? I get so angry when I ask my kids a question and their response is “maybe” or “probs” or “I’ll try.”
Granted, there are some rare occasions when this phrase can be used. However, we all need to commit. Be realistic, and then stop leaving yourself an out. If you say you’ll get something done or delivered by a certain date, then do it. Don’t allow defeat to enter in before you even start. Eliminate “I’ll try” from your conversations and you’ll be more honest with those you lead … and yourself.
These aren’t easy, and there are certainly many more phrases to eliminate than these. Start here and see where your leadership goes.
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.