5 Signs That You’ve Reached Your Leadership Lid

Published March 21, 2016

My wife often jokes with me that I’ve never met a job that I didn’t think I could do. Maybe it’s pride or a false sense of what I am capable of, but any time I’ve pursued a promotion or a new job, I’ve always felt confident I could do it.

Just to give some insight on the diversity of the positions I’ve held over the years, let me lay out my career path for you:

Early on, I worked my way up in the hotel/hospitality business. Then, I transitioned to work in retail and eventually ended up in management. Following retail, I moved on to production management where I had to learn project management. After production management, it was on to higher education where I served as faculty, then a dean, then a campus president and then a regional dean. Now, I am an executive pastor where I oversee church operations that include finances, communication, personnel and facilities.

Pretty diverse, huh? As I look back over those 20 years of career moves, it actually makes me wonder what in the world I was thinking?

And, the truth about it all is that each of those experiences brought me to the point of a “leadership lid,” as Craig Groeschel called it in his 2015 Summit talk. These leadership lids caused me to face the truth that I either needed to increase my leadership capacity or face the fact that the organization was going to fail or take huge steps backwards.

Craig gave five excellent ways to increase your capacity as a leader, but I think a lot of leaders miss some of the signs that they’re either approaching or at their leadership lid. So, here are five signs that you have reached your leadership lid:

  1. You can’t ever seem to get ahead. Your task list is steadily growing and growing and it doesn’t seem like you’re getting anything accomplished. When you go home at the end of the day and reflect on your day, you can’t point to significant things that got done. Another symptom here is that you’re allowing the urgent to distract you from the important.
  1. You’re working harder and harder with fewer results. You’re finding that you’re working longer hours and actually working harder than you previously were, but the results aren’t there. You’re not hitting goals, you’re missing deadlines, or you’re simply not getting the job done. And it’s not at all from a lack of effort, you’re just not able to get done what is expected of you. Working harder and longer hours is ok, but when the results aren’t there, it’s a symptom of a larger issue – and I would submit that you’ve possibly hit a leadership lid.
  1. Your team is regularly underperforming. There’s a reason a coach is fired when a football team does poorly during a season or two. I think that leaders in the business and non-profit world are a little too quick to point our finger at our teams without looking at ourselves first. If you’re leading a team that is regularly underperforming – and maybe you’ve even turned over some staff and it hasn’t helped – I would look inward before you take any other steps. When you, as the leader, reach a leadership lid, it has a tremendous impact on the team(s) you’re leading.
  1. The amount of criticism you’re receiving is deafening. In the life of a leader, criticism can come regularly. But, if you’ve noticed an increase in the criticism, it is probably an indication that you’ve hit a lid. And this is not just criticism of you personally, but also criticism of your team, the performance of your department, etc. The customers and people you serve are a great indication of your leadership capacity – if they’re satisfied/happy, you’re doing ok…if they’re not, you need to evaluate your lid as a leader.
  1. Your work/life balance is off. When I am working harder with fewer results and never getting ahead in my job, my family suffers, my health suffers and my state of mind suffers. When a leader is at his/her best, the balance of life is good and when he/she is not in a good place, the first thing that is sacrificed is often family, health and home. This is probably the best indicator of a leader who has reached his/her lid. You never see your kids. Your spouse is feeling like he/she is in second place. You’ve developed health issues. Your need for a vacation is almost obsessive.

The truth about “leadership lids” is that we all reach them. They are a reality and eventuality in the life of a leader. But, the other thing that is true is if we don’t recognize them early on, they can cause us to falter and fail. So take some time today and identify any of these that may exist in your leadership…and then begin to address it by using one of Craig Groeschel’s five ways to expand your leadership capacity.

About the Author(s)
Tim Parsons serves as lead pastor at The Journey Church outside Indianapolis, a host site for the GLS. His passion is to help people lead better—at work and at home.

Tim Parsons

Lead Pastor

The Journey Church (Indianapolis, IN)

Tim Parsons serves as lead pastor at The Journey Church outside Indianapolis. With a passion to help people lead better at work and at home, his church has been a longtime partner with us as a Premier Host for The Global Leadership Summit. He is the co-author of the new devotional for men, Equipping the Warrior and author of the soon to be released 40-day devotional on spiritual health, The Journey. You can  connect with Tim at timparsons.me.