Being a boss is difficult. Having a boss is even more difficult.
According to a Gallup poll, “75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses and not the position itself.”
Add to that, according to a Gallup poll, 70% of employees hate their job or are disengaged with their work.
Following the leader was way easier when it was a children’s game. As adults following a leader is incredibly challenging.
I think we need to wrestle with this.
Why are bosses so difficult to work for? Why are leaders so hard to follow?
I believe there are three main reasons why a person struggles to follow a leader.
- Bad leadership. There are bad leaders out there. Leadership is difficult, and it takes a special person to lead well. Leadership is not about a title, it’s about who is following. If no one is following then you aren’t an effective leader. Not caring about the people who work for you, treating them poorly, and avoidance of making tough decisions are signs of poor leadership.
- Bad followers. I’m convinced lot of the 70% of people who are unhappy with their job are unhappy because a leader is doing things differently than they would. Leaders have to make decisions, and it’s impossible to have everyone like every decision. So much of our anger and frustration comes from a person not doing things the way we would. That’s selfish and really bad followership.
- A holy discontent. This is one of the most difficult things to peg down. A holy discontent comes from a calling to do something different. We have in our minds that we will pick a job and then stay there forever. That’s the utopian thought. The truth of the matter is as we age we change. Think about the answer you gave as a kid to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most of us aren’t what we thought we wanted to be as a kid. How many people chose a major in college and then chose a career that was different? Starting a job doesn’t mean you will always be called to that job. Sometimes your passion changes. You need to be aware of this.
If you are among the 70% that hate your job here are some things to think about.
- Should you fire Your boss? If you are truly under a bad leader you need to fire them from your life. Now, you may not have authority to fire them from the company, but you do have a choice where you work. If you are under the leadership of a truly bad leader then you are foolish to stay. Just make sure that you have worked hard at your next step. Do some research about what type of boss you want to work for. One of the worst things you can do is change a job to go to another bad job. But if you continue to find one bad leader after the next you need to look inward. I recommend reading Quiter by Jon Acuff before you make a move
- Should you become an amazing follower? I love the insight Jimmy Collins shares in his book, Creative Followership. Collins writes, “Do you desire a satisfying career with opportunities for advancement in the future? The first step is to identify what the boss does not like to do. The second step is to find a way to do what the boss does not like to do, and exceed expectations. you will learn a lot about people, and a lot about yourself, in the process.” He goes on to write, “A follower is someone who has chosen a leader.” Instead of picking job pick a boss. Find someone that you can follow. Take the vision they have and make it better. This doesn’t mean that the boss is perfect, but way too many employees would fire themselves if they were their own boss. Translation, we want amazing bosses that do everything, but we often put in little effort, complain, and fail to do tasks with excellence. If you don’t have a vision for a company, a product, or even a church then find a leader worth following and do it with amazing excellence. You will be happier, and go further behind a leader with a vision than you will on your own. Not everyone can lead. If everyone did lead we would all be going in different directions. I recommend reading Creative Followership by Jimmy Collins.
- Should you find out what God is stirring in you? When I was in high school I took a paid internship at my dream church. After 2 years they let me know that they weren’t going to fire me but I would never become anything more than an intern there. I ended up leaving. I went to college. I grew up…A LOT. Two years later I was offered a full time staff position back at this church. I had arrived. In my mind I was going to retire at this church. But something happened. God placed a holy discontent in my heart. The discontent was to do church differently. Now, if you are not careful when this discontent comes you will start to criticize the place you are at. A holy discontent is hard to peg down because it often starts with questions. Questions about your place in the organization. Questions about the mission of the organization. Way too often a person is afraid to make a change and the holy discontent turns into unholy disfunction. When you hear an employee attacking a good vision it’s time for that employee to move on. If the vision isn’t sinful, and the leader is a good leader then don’t you dare attack the vision. It very well could be that God is stirring something different in your soul. And that’s okay. Different doesn’t mean better. To do something different doesn’t mean the place you are at is bad. It’s just different. If you don’t figure this out you will end up resenting a good leader and a good job. The problem at this point isn’t the job, it’s the fact that you are living outside of your calling. I recommend reading Visioneering by Andy Stanley.
At the end of the day being a leader is incredibly difficult. But so is being a follower. It’s tough to help accomplish someone else’s vision. For the Christian you are called to a higher standard. You are not to be among the 70% that hate their job. You are to work at your job as unto the Lord. You may have to change jobs, or positions, or bosses, but you need to honor the authority God has placed in your life. After all no one is forcing you to work at your job.
Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
Where do you think you line up when it comes to following a leader?