Five Reasons 'Kicking the Can' Leadership Leads to Disaster

Okay, I'm joining the crowd. The majority of Americans are tired and angry about political leaders who put off major decisions, often called "kicking the can."

I'm mad at President Obama. I'm mad at Congress-both the Republicans and Democrats. My anger is an equal opportunity anger.

And please stop pointing your finger at the other party. We elected you to work out major decisions, not to see who could win the contest of creating the best scapegoat. Real leaders find ways to work with others. Real leaders accept responsibility instead of blaming others.

I'm guessing that I can't take the same approach with the Internal Revenue Service. You know: "Let the IRS know that since I am uncertain of my expenditures for the year, I choose not to pay taxes for a while. I'll get back to them when I make a decision."

Nope. I can't do that and remain a free man. It's called breaking the law when I kick the can. It's called politics when they do it in Washington. And they kick the can with billions and billions of dollars at stake.

We who lead families, businesses, and churches have to make decisions in a timely manner. We do not have the luxury of spending other people's money while we try to figure things out.

Kicking the can leadership is bad for our country. It's bad for any organization: family, business, school, church, and others. Allow me to share just five reasons why it can lead to disaster. I'm sure there are many more.

1. The situation inevitably gets worse by putting off decisions. I have known people in leadership positions who have difficulty making decisions on major issues. They kick the can and the issue worsens each week they delay.

2. Those who serve under "kicking the can" leaders lose confidence in them. This style of leadership not only destroys effectiveness in an organization; it really hurts morale. People can no longer trust the leader to get the job done.

3. Other decisions get put on hold. When a leader kicks the can on a singular decision, there is usually a domino effect. Many other decisions were dependent on that one decision being made. Kicking the can on one issue means kicking the can on several issues.

4. Fearful leadership becomes normative. You know what we need in Washington. We need courageous leaders. The fearful leadership of our current so-called leaders in D. C. is epidemic. It reminds me of a bunch of second graders fighting on the playground. They soon start crying and running to the teacher to let her know it was someone else's fault. Kicking the can leadership is contagious.

5. Factions grow. Kicking the can leadership is really not leadership at all. And when there is no clear leadership, factions form to fill the void. These factions typically have an adversarial relationship with each other because each is trying to be the de facto leader. This reality exacerbates a situation that is already bad.

We have plenty of kicking the can leaders in D. C. We need courageous leaders in Washington. We likewise need courageous leaders in our families, businesses, schools, and churches.

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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