top of page
  • Writer's pictureKeith Haney

Leading for the Right Reason

After every conference I attend, I search for the significant takeaway from the event. The Global Leadership Conference produced this probing question: Are you leading for the right reason? As a pastor, I know many shepherds struggle with the concept of leadership. Am I called to lead, or am I called to shepherd my flock? You are called to do both. Mainly because a shepherd is a servant leader. The talk that impacted me the most was by Patrick Lencioni. Patrick shared the observation that there are two kinds of leaders: Servant and Reward-based.

Servant vs. Reward-based Leaders.

Lencioni identifies two reasons people become a leader:

  1. The Servant leaders lead with this in mind: Do whatever you need to do to serve the people you need to.

  2. The reward-based leader seeks rewards. attention, status, power, etc.

What is your Motivation to Lead?

As a leader, you must constantly wrestle with your motives.

Here are some warning signs if you are working for a Reward-based leader.

Reward-based leaders avoid having difficult and uncomfortable conversations.

It is easy to tell yourself, “I don’t like conflict, so I will just pray things work out with a staff person or a member.” The reality is this behavior is self-centered. It hinders the growth of your team and creates division. You will do more damage as a leader ignoring problems than facing them head-on.

  • Reward-based leaders need to manage their direct reports.

  • Servant leaders value investing time in their direct reports. Reward-based leaders find managing their direct reports tedious and boring.

  • If people aren’t managed, they lose motivation, and it becomes political within the organization.

  • Reward-based leaders hate meetings and run ineffective ones.

You might be a reward-based leader if you:

If you complain about meetings.

  1. Hate meetings so much you have considered changing jobs.

  2. You desperately want to delegate them to someone else.

  3. At the meeting, you are on your phone or computer when something that isn’t about you is being discussed.


Here is the thing that Lencioni pointed out. The adage that everyone is a leader is just false. Everyone is not meant to lead. Some people show up for the wrong reasons. Others lead with the wrong spirit, and their leadership hurts people and the organization.

This closing illustration is something to keep in mind.

Clovis Chappell, a minister from a century back, used to tell the story of two steamboats. They left Memphis about the same time, traveling down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they traveled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail’s pace of the other. Challenges were made, and the race began.

Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the deep South. One boat began falling behind because it did not have enough fuel. There had been plenty of coal for the trip but needed more for a race. As the boat dropped back, an enterprising young sailor took some ship’s cargo and tossed it into the ovens. When the sailors saw that the supplies burned and the coal was, they fueled their boat with the material they had been assigned to transport. They ended up winning the race but burned their cargo.

God has entrusted cargo to us, too. Our job is to do our part in seeing that this cargo reaches its destination. Yet when the program takes priority over people, people often suffer.

Questions for every leader to ask themselves or if you are courageous to ask those you lead.

  1. How much cargo (people and relationships) are we sacrificing to achieve the goal?

  2. How many people on our team never reach their destination?

49 views0 comments


bottom of page