Ten Reasons Leaders (and anyone for that matter) Don't Finish Well

I don't know who the original creator of this image is, you can find it at many places on the internet. My gratitude to the creative individual behind the image.

I can't tell you enough how much I have been influenced by J. Robert Clinton (i.e. Bobby Clinton, and no relationship to a "power couple" in the USA). Bobby Clinton was in the Fuller School of World Missions, where his focus was on leadership. He is a prolific author, although his books are not easy reading. They are loaded with complex systems of development, filled with a terminology that must be grasped, and not especially well-written. However - they are priceless in their content and well worth the time to gather the substance and wisdom on every page.

For a "Clinton for Dummies book" you can read, The Making of a Leader by J. Robert Clinton, which is the most accessible of his books, and which will give you the overview of many core ideas in his model.

What is equally (or more) valuable, is to read other authors who have been shaped by Clinton and who write their own versions of Clinton. One such author is Neil Cole. And one theme Cole works with is the idea of "plateaued leaders." That is - the characteristics of leaders who have stopped learning and growing. In his book Organic Leadership, he provides ten characteristics. Here is the list with LITTLE or NO COMMENTARY. The list speaks for itself.

  • Give yourself a letter grade for how you are doing.
  • Ask one of your closest friends or colleagues to give you a letter grade.
  • Average the two grades.
  • Then subtract a full letter grade (to work against distortion bias and the general problem of faulty self-awareness) to find out how well you are doing.


1.  Avoid relationships of personal accountability.

2.  Have infrequent personal application of God's Word (not just studying ideas and an informational understanding, but the existential, heart engagement of those idea)s.

3.  Loss of joy, peace, and love and the growing reality of envy, resentment, competitiveness and other relational behaviors that reflect those things.

4.  Looking elsewhere for the greener pastures (not doing, or able to do, the hard work of creating a green pasture where you are planted).

5.  Easily find fault in others, but slow to see fault in your self.

6.  Prone to busyness and activity for God and find it difficult to have relational intimacy/friendship with God.

7.  Getting "looser" on ethics, values, character, and virtue in general (dancing closer to the line that should not be crossed, and usually justifying it).

8.  Choosing to stay in your comfortable areas of knowledge and not finding new areas to learn, develop and grow.

9.  Like to be seen as the expert, not the student-learner (like to hear your own voice much more than the voices of others).

10. The Christian life has become stale, rut-like, same old - same old.

That is the list Cole provides. I could add some others. You could to. Feel free to do that. But be sure to do the personal evaluation. Maybe even reflect on these as a journaling exercise.

My prayer is that you will be a Life Long Learner, pressing on to the fullness of maturity in Christ, highly intentional about personal development, living outside the comfort zones of life, and finding great companions who are doing the same.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International