Bad Behavior

As pastors and leaders, people notice what we do more than what we say. The old saying is true, “most things are caught, not taught.” Recently James Albright posted an article entitled Unproductive Behavior of Leaders. He begins by warning us NOT to apply this list to others but to examine our own behaviors. As we climb out of COVID, the church needs leaders who have integrity and lead by example.


Here is his list of bad behaviors that we need to acknowledge and change: 

1. Manufactured Drama

Leaders who exhibit unproductive behaviors can manufacture drama. They take something that should not have the least flare of dramatics, particularly when it involves people, and pour gas on a smoldering fire. They find great pleasure in pitting people against each other. People in a position of leadership who exhibit these behaviors enjoy debates, not dialogue. They cannot accept that people are working towards a consensus, especially when the direction the team is headed veers from their preferred outcome.

2. Manipulation

John Maxwell defines leadership as, “influence.” When I coach, I teach kids that we all wield influence. The question is how do we use that influence we have been given? Do you use it for good or bad? Your agenda or the agenda of others?

The negative use of our influence is usually found in manipulation. It is using the influence you possess to get people on your agenda, rather than supporting theirs. Manipulation is the art of messing with someone else’s mind to get what you want.

3. Panic

Panicking is never productive. As you climb the leadership ladder, consistency and steadiness are what your team needs. When our team brings you a challenge or a crisis, they need help, not a reaction. An overaction could be fatal to their confidence in bringing future issues forward.

Navy Seal Rorke Denver says that, “calm is contagious.” In a moment of crisis, people will elevate to the temperature of their leader. The result is simple, you panic, they panic. If you are calm, it draws them towards your level of emotion and away from theirs.

3. Negativity

If you have never read it, Jon Gordon wrote a great book called the Energy Bus. I highly recommend it! It is a quick read on the need to be positive in the work environment. In the book, he talks about the concept of the, “Energy Vampire.” Those people that suck the life out of an organization.

Negative is natural. We must work to be positive. Negativity is like a disease, if left untreated it can spread like wildfire and destroy a person from the inside out. Also like a disease, it can be contagious, extremely contagious.

As a leader, you have the responsibility to hold yourself accountable. When you catch yourself leading with negatively, treat it immediately. Give yourself a solid dose of self-reflection and deal with it.

4. Pride

The easiest unproductive behavior to succumb to when you are successful is pride. The more successful we become, the greater pride we take in what we do. The slightest criticism, fair or not, can place us on the defensive. Especially when a program or project was our creation.

Here is another great John Maxwell quote, “Leaders who fail to prune their pride will meet demise. That’s not a guess, it’s a guarantee. With pride, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ we will fall, but ‘when.’ There are no exceptions.”

Pride clouds our vision and inhibits our ability to see problems that have developed in our organizations. We try to paint a preferred picture of a reality that doesn’t exist.

5. Insecure

Insecurity can be Kryptonite to your leadership. All leaders have natural insecurities. Leadership can be a lonely place. The question is, how do we deal with those insecurities?

We have all been told hundreds of times to hire people that are smarter than us. We hear it, but do we really believe it? Leaders who recruit, retain, and develop talent build organizations that will last beyond them. Insecure leaders will suffocate those that they should be breathing life into. Most of all, their insecurities will leave them isolated and ineffective.

6. Hypocritical

Here is some historical context on the word hypocrite from Webster’s Dictionary, “hypocrite ultimately came into English from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “an actor” or “a stage player.” It goes on to talk about how the actors wore different masks that represented the characters they were playing.

Leaders who are hypocritical are difficult to follow. They wear different masks and their character changes with the scene. Their actions do not align with their words. It’s the old adage, “do as I say, not as I do.”

One of my favorite quotes is from President George H.W. Bush, “preach the gospel at all times and use words if necessary.” We can preach the standard operating procedures, the policies, and the core values all we want, but if we do not walk in them with our actions, they are worth as little as the piece of paper they are written on.

7. Critical

Dale Carnegie said, “any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain and most do.” The further we get in our leadership journey, we can become more critical, which leads to cynicism. No one wants to be led by a cynic.

Andy Stanley has a great response to your team bringing you a new and maybe event farfetched idea, “you say wow, not how.” Critics ask how, before saying wow. This simple phrase can temper your criticism. Criticism tears people down, it does not build them up. Leaders who use their influence for the good, build people up.

8. Anger

I am a firm believer that one human being has no right to treat another human being harshly. I have heard people in positions of leadership brag about yelling, screaming, and cussing at a team member. Under no circumstance is that acceptable, regardless of the severity of the mistake.

If this is you, I would highly encourage a quick behavior change. Here is what General Eric Shinseki says about change, “if you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.” Leaders who lose control in a rage of anger are becoming more irrelevant by the day. There is no place for them in the modern leadership world.


Which of these bad behaviors are you most likely to exhibit? Who do you have in your life to help you? Where do you need to grow?

Albright concludes, “If you allow your unproductive behaviors to go unchecked, your organization will suffer. On the other hand, if your productive behaviors dominate, you will lead a sustainable and successful organization. Your people will be grateful for it.”

(Originally posted by James Albright

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Jim Williams says:

    Excellent review Randy. Great time to do a personal inventory.


  2. David Wildermuth says:

    Randy, Thanks for sharing this excellent article!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Garrett says:

    Thanks, Randy, for this reminder. T.J. Addington’s book Deep Influence has some wonderful treatment regarding many of these points. I would highly recommend it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks Randy. Great points to self evaluate.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks! Great to hear from you!


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