The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors. – Nehemiah 3:5 (NIV)

There are lots of things that can cause people to stop following their leader:

  • It’s clear the person they’re following lacks integrity.
  • The leader is taking the team or organization where they don’t want to go.
  • There’s unresolved conflict on the team.
  • Some outside circumstance has forced them to stop following against their will.

But there are two issues this passage from Nehemiah brings to light that don’t get talked about. Two very good reasons for a follower to stop following:

1. The leader asks their team to do things they wouldn’t do themselves.
People get the leader can’t and shouldn’t do everything themselves. That’s why they empower and delegate. What people don’t get is when a leader stops empowering and starts dumping tasks on them because they think they’re too good to do it. That the task is beneath them, but not their team.

The issue here is two-fold. The first one is thinking too highly of oneself. The second is thinking too lowly of your team. Both are detrimental. Both make it impossible for anyone to respect your leadership.

2. The leader won’t take direction from their leader.
As vital as it is for a leader to know how to lead their team, they must also know to be led themselves. Everyone’s got a boss. Everyone. Whether they like it or not. I see a lot of guys who don’t follow their boss but expect others to follow them. Lead by example and show how to be led well.

Nothing rubs people the wrong way like our own hubris. The best way to combat it is through humility: humbling myself now so others don’t have to later. When we do we can begin to put our shoulders to the work, and so will our team.

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