Why Smart People Make Lousy Leaders

This is a guest post by Mike Holmes. Mike Holmes is the Founder of Tithehacker.org. The purpose of the site is to increase the financial literacy of the Body of Christ. Mike used the principles of Tithing and Stewardship to tithing from unemployment checks to a 6-figure-income. Feel free to check out a free resource: “What is Tithing: The Definitive Guide “They” Don’t Want You to Have.

When Swedish industrialist and International Christian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) founder Gunnar Olson started his first company, in his words, he was a yo-yo Christian. When things were great he was ecstatic, when things were down he was depressed. Also he was super-spiritual, so when sales were down he would fast and pray.

It was the smart thing to do.

Child walking in the road

Image by Nina Williams

On the last day of a 14 day fast he received a call from a woman whose wisdom and insight he highly respected.

She had a word from the Lord.

He was excited. He desperately needed answers from God. What mystical insight had God revealed to her? According to him,

“‘Get out there and sell!!’ she announced. ‘Gunnar you need to do your part too!’”


“But wait a minute Mike!!! He did the right thing. He sought the Lord. It was the smart thing to do. On top of that…where do you come off with such a moronic title??!! Leaders are supposed to be smart! That’s why they read books, go to conferences, read blogs…hello!! You need to explain yourself here Mike!!”

Sheesh 🙂

Fair enough.

Let me do just that.

What I mean to say is: the problem with smart people is they tend to know more than they do. And the fact of the matter is: God called us to seek Him but He also called us to hustle.

You look at people like Michael Hyatt and Jeff Goins who are leaders in their own right. Did they get where they are by being smart? By waiting for opportunities to come to them? Or was it because they were foolish enough to chase opportunities, even when it didn’t seem “smart” enough to do.

Smart people don’t make good leaders–“childlike” people do. What are the differences? I’m glad you asked:

Know mostly about everything Know they don’t know and because of that keep learning
Create so they won’t fail Fail because they know that’s part of the creation process
Give answers Ask questions
Trust reason and logic Have faith
Ask, “Why should we?” Ask, “Why Don’t we?”
Have fun with theory Have fun with theory and action
See work as work Have fun with their work
Set out to fix a problem Set out to change the world

We were never called to be smart; we were called to be wise and childlike.

Question: But what do you think? What makes a great leader? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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