Warning: These 3 Leadership Mistakes Can Derail Your Vision

In my last post, I mentioned a few reasons why non-profit staff may consider leaving their jobs.  Listed below are three leadership mistakes that cause frustration and the eventual resignation of team members.



Mistake #1: Hiring for heart alone.

You want passionate people on your team who are committed to the vision of your organization.  That makes perfect sense and you should screen potential team members for that quality.

However, if you hire people with heart who don’t also possess the skills needed to do the job then you’ve created a problem. You’ll have a team full of people who are excited at first, but will quickly become discouraged as the workload and responsibilities exceed their abilities.

The best-case scenario is to hire people with heart who also have the skills needed to do the job with excellence.

A runner-up is where you hire someone with heart who has the potential to develop the skills needed and together you create a training and development plan to quickly help them obtain those skills.


Mistake #2: Moving too quickly.

It’s frustrating to see a need going unmet, especially when the vision of what you want to accomplish is so clear in your mind.  The problem is when leaders rush into a huge effort without taking time to think through the work involved.

Don’t get so focused on the finish line that you steamroll over your team when they start talking about what it’ll take to run the race.

Planning can be done efficiently when you have at least one experienced, skilled planner on the team (see Mistake #1).

Mistake #3: Not encouraging open, honest communication.

I fully support respecting and honoring leaders.  However, I’ve seen this move into dangerous territory when it morphs into revering a ministry leader (yes, I’ve seen this happen most in churches/ministries) to the point where staff won’t raise concerns, offer alternate approaches, or ask challenging questions.

If you are a leader: Encourage your team to tell you the unvarnished truth, even when they think you won’t like it.  When they do, listen carefully and fight the temptation to get defensive.  If they feel like they “got into trouble” from telling you about an issue, they won’t tell you next time which can lead to even larger problems.

If you are a staff / team member: Before you raise an issue, try to see the situation from your leader’s perspective.  Then develop 2-3 potential solutions to the problem and find an appropriate time to discuss them with your leadership.   Be respectful during the conversation and only raise the issue if you are truly interested in helping the team succeed (not because you have a “beef” with your leader).  The right motive makes all the difference.


I appreciate the passion, drive and conviction non-profit leaders bring to running an organization whose mission is to change lives.  That’s why I think it’s important to mention these mistakes and hopefully help you prevent them from occurring in your organization. Your vision is too important to let these things hurt your efforts.


So, what do you think?  Have you seen these mistakes in-action?  How have you dealt with these issues?