What To Do When A Leader Fails

We know that all leaders are human. They’re frail and they have the ability to fail.

But since they’re in a position of leadership, we overlook the fact that they’re human. And that they can fail.

Leaders will fall, will you help restore?

Image by Dee Ashley

Realize All Leaders Can Fail

I think the biggest thing we can do when a leader fails is to remember that all leaders can fail. Even those you look up to the most.

When you put leadership failure into the perspective that it could easily have been you, you begin to look at the failed leader in a new light.

He’s you but in a different position. The failed leader made bad choices that led him to a place they never thought they’d be.

Each little step away from the truth leads further and further into a rabbit hole that’s hard to get out of.

Realize All Failed Leaders Need Help

Leading is lonely. Too many leaders feel they have to put up a front of perfection and can’t admit when they fail.

One thing failed leaders will say over and over again is:

I didn’t know who to approach for help.

Because of sin and failure, falling leaders feel there’s no one around to help them.

Whether it’s from shame or guilt or a sense of not wanting to be caught, they feel they’re all alone. Even more so if they’re caught in their wrong.

This is were the struggling leader needs you, a fellow leader, even more. You’ve got to be willing to come alongside them and offer your help.

Honestly, it’s not easy to offer your help to someone who has disappointed you. It’s downright hard.

But offering your help is the right thing to do.

Realize All Failed Leaders Can Make A Comeback

Reading through scripture, I see stories of redemption abound.

David, a man who committed adultery, is called a man after God’s own heart. Samson failed in his vow to God yet was used to destroy the enemies of God. Abraham is called a friend of God after numerous failures.

These leaders failed. And failed greatly. Yet they were still known to God as beloved and went on to accomplish great things.

Know that even as you see a leader failing, it’s not the end of his story. Through repentance and a changed heart, failed leaders can make a comeback.

Your Role To Play With The Failed Leader

We all have our unique roles to play when a leader fails. It’s up to you to discover that role. You may find yourself as:

The comforter: Failed leaders are hurting. They’re reeling from the realization of the pain they’ve caused and how it could affect the work that has been done by their hands.

You may have the role of comforting the fallen one.

The comforter helps the fallen one realize there is hope even in their darkest hour. They will show them Biblical truths that help them continue their walk. They will shower them with support as they find their way to redemption.

The truth teller: Failed leaders need to hear the truth. The cold, hard truth.

You will find some people have this role in their lives. They are the ones who are able to carry the burden of laying down the law and telling the person what they need to hear.

This role may strain relationships. It may even end friendships. But sometimes you’re called to be the bold truth teller.

The mentor: Failed leaders need someone to mentor them.

It sucks to fail and have no one around to help wade through the mess you made. That’s where the mentor comes in.

The mentor helps the fallen leader pick up the pieces and decide how to move forward. The mentor isn’t there to coddle the failed but to encourage them and help them rebuild their lives.

The accountability partner: Failed leaders need someone to hold them accountable.

One of the big reasons leaders fail in the first place is because they lacked someone who held them accountable. They didn’t have anyone asking the hard questions and seeking the truth.

Your role as an accountability partner is to keep their butts to the fire and make sure they’re making changes in their lives.

Ask questions. Lots of questions. Even the uncomfortable questions.

You’re there to help them be accountable.

Seeing a leader fail is not fun. Yet leadership failure is something most of us will see happen at one point or another.

The good news is that failed leaders can make a comeback and you can help. Don’t give up on the failed leader.

Question: How have you helped a failed leader recover from a major fall? I need to hear your tips in the comment section below.

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