3 Character Blind Spots A Lot Of Leaders Struggle With (Any Chance You Do?)

Your character is showing.

Character is something leaders don’t think about often enough,  yet it impacts their teams daily. You may not think about your character as a leader, but I promise you that your team does.

To a large extent, your character helps determines the size of your platform. Why? Platform rarely outgrows character.

Platform rarely outgrows character because your organization will shrink to the size of your defects, or, after a temporary surge, things will contract to the size of your blind spots.

Some leaders push past all those barriers despite their poor character, and when that happens, the results can be catastrophic. Often the frequent moral failures you see are the result of a platform that outgrew a leader’s character.

And even if a leader never gets ousted, show me a leader with poor character and I’ll show you a sea of hurt and a trail of bodies scattered within and around their leadership.

The hardest aspect of all of this is often we’re blind to our character flaws.

Everyone sees them but us.

One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced in leadership is to constantly wrestle down my character issues and blind spots so I can lead (and live) better.  I feel like it’s a constant battle to keep my motives and actions in check. Daily motive checks and honest feedback from people who love you enough to tell you the truth can keep you on the path to progress.

Here are three character blind spots a lot of leaders struggle with.

The question is: do you?

1. Your Leadership Is All About You (Pride)

Pride is usually tied to either narcissism or insecurity.

Narcissists have a pathological need to make everything about themselves. Insecure leaders do the same thing—just for very different reasons.

While narcissism is a problem in leadership, insecurity is a bigger one. I know far more insecure leaders than I do narcissists.

Insecure leaders end up making the entire organization about themselves because they can’t handle not being the smartest person in the world.

They are usually unwilling to feature better communicators in case it makes them look bad. Insecure leaders struggle with delegation because they don’t trust their teams.

As a result, the entire organization becomes about them.

You might be asking “well how can this be about pride if you don’t feel great about yourself?”

The best definition of pride I know is this: pride is an obsession with self.

If you’re obsessed with yourself for any reason, pride is infecting your leadership.

The challenge, of course, is this: The only person your pride impresses is you. Ironically, you can drift toward superiority because your inferiority has taken you there.

Push some other leaders into the spotlight. Release not just responsibility to others on your team, but authority.

Don’t think less of yourself, just think of yourself less and the mission more.

Only humility will get you out of what pride got you into.

2. You Always Want More (Lust)

Lust is sexual, but it’s more than just sexual.

It can mean you simply want more: more growth, more success, better results.

Obviously, growth in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. I love being a part of a growing organization that’s accomplishing its mission.

But growth is much healthier as a by-product than a goal.

The key is to make sure that the goal itself isn’t growth. I admit I struggle with this.

For example, you could say “let’s just reach more people,” but asking yourself why can be a very revealing exercise.

Is it to:

  • Make you feel better about yourself?
  • Keep up with colleagues who are leading a growing organization?

Or, is it because you genuinely want to serve and help more people?

It can also lead you to always demand more from your team—more hours, more output, more heart, more everything. Which will leave them exhausted and discouraged.

Growth for growth’s sake can be demoralizing to a team. It can make them feel like whatever they do isn’t enough, or that the real reason every year is supposed to be better than the last year is to satisfy your ego.

A better motivation is to want more for the people you serve and more for your team.

Leaders who want to do more for the people they lead are better leaders than those who try to extract more from the people they lead.

3. You’re Great At Spin (Lying)

You would think leaders—especially church leaders—would tell the truth.

It’s just way too easy not to, especially if you struggle with ego, insecurity, or always want more.

The truth isn’t always fun.

It takes an awful lot of courage to admit that you’re not growing right now. Or your last quarter was one of your worst quarters.

Or that a staff member didn’t leave ‘by mutual agreement’ but either left out of frustration or was fired.

So, because you don’t like the truth, you spin it.

In leadership, spin is sin.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Netflix’s policy of radical candor. It can be tough, but the bottom line is there are no secrets…about good news or bad news.

When you spin everything you teach your team to not trust you. Because they can’t believe you, they’ll make up their own explanation or talk to other staff to find out ‘what really happened’.

Alternatively, when there is no story behind the story, people will start to trust your story. When you manipulate the story to make yourself look good, people don’t.

Telling the truth ultimately engenders a far deeper trust and commitment from everyone involved.

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What Character Defects Do You Look For?

What blind spots do you look for inside yourself?  Which character defects have you seen in other leaders that drove you off the team?

Scroll down a leave a comment.

3 Character Blind Spots A Lot Of Leaders Struggle With (Any Chance You Do?)

15 Comments

  1. Todd Nielsen on October 14, 2021 at 8:13 am

    Hi Carey, Thank you so much for your podcast and blogposts. What do you suggest when you’ve had to let a team member go and sharing some of those reasons with the rest of the team may disparage that person? People still ask? Wonder? Make assumptions? At times in trying to protect the reputation of the person leaving it causes others to question the leaderships decisions? Certainly don’t want to put a “spin” on things but how much do we share if it makes the person leaving look bad?

  2. Holloway Coats on October 14, 2021 at 7:59 am

    Well stated and perfect message for a leadership 101 class.

  3. Genetta Y Hatcher on October 13, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    Thank you as always for helping us to see us and to be the best for God and God’s people.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on October 13, 2021 at 6:38 pm

      Glad it helped Genetta!

      • dandan on October 13, 2021 at 8:37 pm

        and just who you think our God’s people….. do you know the name of the god of Abraham and the god of David….. because there are many who claim as God Satan proclaimed himself God the Pharaoh was God……
        Jesus went to his own and they received him not Jesus went to those Jews and gentiles alike….. the scriptures have been misinterpreted or miswritten..

        Jesus was not a Jew Revelation 2:9 Revelation 3:9 John 8 44.. but he was a descendant of Judah that does not make him a Jew that makes him a Judah ite……
        those descendants of Judah were all called Jews anyhow by mistake…… those not in the lineage of Jesus Christ perfectly we’re called gentiles still in the family of the tribes to send it to Jacob who wrestled with the angel and got his name changed ish lra el child of God…
        Jesus went to his own and they received him not and they murdered him……. if you call the word chosen it is today the world’s greatest people the greatest population of people the greatest civilization of people the greatest charity the most honest the most character the most inventive imaginative and the Bible says they went West until they could go no more there’s only one people one people which this describes who settled in the chosen land a nation of unwalled villages the rogue state of Israel is a state of many many walls China has the Great Wall Russia has the Berlin Wall there’s only one country that has no walls whatsoever and also says it’s divided by mighty Rivers and quarters there’s only one country divided by four by mighty Rivers….. so when you look to a chosen country and you look to a chosen people you cannot look East…… after the Assyrian release the 10 tribes went everywhere all over the world even back to Judea and God hid their name so they would not be killed in their identity….. but they left tracks and traces where they were antiquity relics……but you won’t find this knowledge in any religion not in any 501c3 corporate business….. and if you challenge the truth by challenging the narrative you will be attacked……

  4. Scott Borden on October 13, 2021 at 11:41 am

    As usual Carey you nailed it…I would add the character defects you suggested are intermixed…insecurity goes with lust etc…..

    • Carey Nieuwhof on October 13, 2021 at 6:38 pm

      That’s a really great insight Scott. Hadn’t thought about that. Truth.

  5. Mark Schollaert on October 13, 2021 at 8:58 am

    my four from you today friend:
    PRIDE: an obsession with self.
    HUMILITY: not just thinking less of me but thinking more of our why.
    GROWTH: happens when we genuinely want more FOR people.
    LEADERSHIP: spin is sin while truth keeps us straight.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on October 13, 2021 at 6:39 pm

      Awesome takeaways Mark!

  6. Norbert on October 13, 2021 at 8:45 am

    Your write ups blesses my life and ministry Everytime…. God bless you sir, keep up the good work……

    • Carey Nieuwhof on October 13, 2021 at 6:39 pm

      Super kind Norbert! Thank you.

  7. Dan on October 13, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Good self-check post today, Carey. I think we all need to look inside regularly, thanks.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on October 13, 2021 at 6:39 pm

      I have to every single day.

  8. Eric on October 13, 2021 at 6:38 am

    Powerful!!!! Thank you.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on October 13, 2021 at 6:39 pm

      So glad it helped Eric!

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