When good people drop the ball, it is 100%, every single time, a leadership problem.

By Steve Moran

Over the course of just a few days I had conversations with two different pastors who lamented (have to use a good Biblical word since I am talking about pastors) that their volunteer leaders were “flakes” — not exactly the word they used.  

They were frustrated because these members would sign-on to do a job and then fail to follow through. This is a huge problem for leaders of all teams and the assumption is that the team members just don’t have a serious commitment to the organization.

This is not just a volunteer or a church problem. It happens every day in almost every business organization.  

They Have It Completely Wrong

Unless these leaders are allowing terrible people to volunteer in their organizations or work for their senior living organizations, the people they are labeling as uncommitted or unreliable are good people who want to be successful and who want to move the goals of the organization forward.   

I know I am going to get some emails and some comments challenging this, but here we go:

The bottom line to all this is that when good people drop the ball, it is 100%, every single time, a leadership problem.

My Confession

I recently hired a young woman by the name of Karissa Hannum to help grow the sponsor/partner base for Senior Housing Forum. She then came back to the team and said “Hey, can I get some success story case studies to share with the people I am reaching out to?” It was something I should have done a long time ago and went to work making this happen.

During the next team meeting we had a discussion about this and decided . . . so I thought, that copy editor/writer extraordinaire Pam McDonald would take on this project. Then during last week’s team call Pam asked what was going on with the project?

My response . . . “I thought you were taking it on.” Pam had no recollection of that being the case. Who failed?

No question, it was me.   

The Leader’s Job

As a leader, my most important job is to help my team move forward with the projects and tasks they are working on. I just plain dropped the ball on this project. I wasn’t clear, didn’t set time goals and finally, I didn’t do any follow-up to make sure we were all on the same page.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not about micromanaging — something that is horribly demoralizing to team members and something I detest — it is about providing direction, guidance, encouragement and teachable moments. If my team, any team, could do what I do, they would not be working for me, they would be leading, directing a team of their own.   

A final note: If I am the very best kind of leader, I will create an environment where those individuals who work under me that want to be leaders on their own, will be able to do so. In fact, the pinnacle of great leadership is to launch new leaders into the world, maybe even as better leaders than the one who launched them.