Leadership Fallacies

Management Myths

The task of leadership ought to rouse the heart to arise to a higher standard in and of itself.  But this is not always the case.  When reality arrives and the popular “Get Rich Quick” books fail to hold up beyond the ideals of our fantasies, those temptations to short-change our goals can overwhelm our best intentions.

Following are some of the more popular notions of how good business might be conducted.  The initial good feeling or short term benefit may entice us to follow the new notion, but time will erode their effect.  Eventually, the “right paths” are lost and as a result we find ourselves lost in the forest of fast changing allures of quick success.  But be advised, the consequences are still on the way.  The pursuit of long term and ethical success must rise above these fallacies.

1) “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.”   

Grace Hopper, US Navy Rear Admiral, is popularly credited as the originator of this handy philosophy (she also coined the computer term, “bug”).  Sometimes known as Stewart’s/Stuart’s Law of Retroaction: “It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.”  But it appears even earlier than this in Arthur Bloch’s, Murphy’s Law Book Two (1980).

But really, only someone filled with their own self-importance believes this is true.  On the contrary, the consequences of this juvenile thinking will prove that it is far more costly in the long run in lost respect and compromised trust.

Be mindful that you will only get away with this once.  This juvenile approach to achieving personal ends causes far more harm than good.  In fact, the harm will likely never find reconciliation since the guilty abusers are advertising their inability to be trusted.  They do not seek the common good, only their own narrow pursuits.

One’s credibility has been compromised.  The exploited party will always hold you suspect and coworkers and peers, although maybe impressed to see another hood-winked will always have their guard up when asked for favors.  No one wants to risk humiliation by a known shyster.

Keep your interactions open and of high quality.  People are always watching and assessing your potential.  Establish a right reputation that will encourage future cooperation.  Sow your long term prospects for success.

Biblical teaching has light for us, especially to encourage better ethics conducive to ministry,

Numbers 32:23, “… and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.”

Luke 8:17, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

1 Samuel 16:7b, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Who knows for sure where and how this adage got its first light of day.  Perhaps Adam and Eve thought that while reaching for the forbidden fruit?  It may be a handy and “cute” way to score easy gains, but the long ranged goals of stamina will elude you henceforth.

Note, a casual Google search will reveal this quote in “humor” contexts.  Most people understand this idea as out of the practice of real life.  It’s a ruse!


2) “It’s not my Job”

When someone is a little too focused on their own agenda and their own perceived “rights,” a degrading road is being traversed.

Focus is upon the parameters, AKA “limits” of their job responsibilities.

Next step involves the bare minimum requirement to still get a pay check.

And it does not stop there.  Left unchecked, the next step is how much can I get away with and still get a pay check.

Step by step, the initiative and desire withers into the netherworld of laziness and sour attitude.  A worker is lost to their own greedy foils and worse a virus is unleashed on your system.  Quarantine the pitiful attitude and spare the rest your work force.  Lose one who is already lost and spare the whole.  At least spare the declining job ethic wreaking havoc on your quality goals.

Granted, sometimes it is true that a given situation may be out of their area of expertise, and a truly lazy worker is enabled to get even lazier.  Time limitations may play into this, or even performance fatigue driving someone to crash into burn out.  However, is it ever acceptable that a need should arise and a leader would actually ignore it by taking the easy way out, avoiding responsibility leaders have accepted?  One or way or another, a true leader will address the needs.  If they are fatigued then delegation is the proper route, or at least cooperating and mentoring another who is capable of the task, but just need a little guidance.

As Bruce Stals explains,

“Employees quickly flee crises, but leaders show their true grit as the ones running toward the crisis.”

John 10:12,

“The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it.”


3) Management Means Getting Others to do Your Work for You

If you happen to be the multimillionaire of your corporation, maybe.  But even then, intelligent corporate managers recognize such an outdated business philosophy for what it is, narcissistic power indulgence.

In our modern age, managers must adapt to better practices of managerial cooperation.  When I was a restaurant manager at Perkins, I would never assume talking with a cook held much credibility unless I had a knife in hand standing next time prepping the line for the coming dinner rush.  Talking with a servant required rag in hand and cleaning tables next to them.  An overbearing demeanor may have been common in the culture of the 40’s – 50’s, but our Post-modern age does not accommodate such ego gratification.

The Christian approach to management and leadership runs a different course for worldly models.  How few “Christian business leaders” catch the difference.  It’s as though their faith is good only for Sunday mornings and whatever Christ may say to them has no bearing in the work place.  (BTW, that’s also known as hypocrisy).

Some suppose that the Christian business ethic is weak and others will tromp over us when we appeal to passive principles of being “nice.”  But when did Jesus ever inspire wimpiness?  On the contrary, Christian business leaders know where and how to hold the line on good moral conduct.  Being honest and holding to integrity does not mean we allow ourselves to become doormats.  We clarify our stand.  We assert our convictions and expectations and we are honest, which means maintaining and practicing a steady line of accountability.

Christian business leaders know how to roll up their sleeves and step into the work.  They set the standard and goals and then they back up their people to get there in a timely and noble fashion.  Power over others has nothing to do with good business practices, especially when Christian ethics set the pace.

Can capitalism and Christianity cohabit the same facility?  If you responded with a knee-jerk “of course,” you may have answered that a little too quick.  It may not always be as easy as you assume.  Remember, Jesus did not establish the faith in a democratic culture like America where capital ideals are the norm.  Sometimes it takes a shrewd and mature business mind to realize the difference between honest and exploited profits.  Honor the king and his directives and he will honor his teaching.


4) “Here’s What You Oughta Do”

It’s like a poor comedy when one encounters such a routine.  Someone has the idea, now you take care of it and get ready to give the credit to the meddler that dumped the whole ordeal upon you and your busy schedule.

The appropriate response is, “how can I help YOU to get YOUR idea into action.  Since YOU came up with the idea then it’s only proper that YOU should be the one to follow it though.”

The old adage comes into play at this point, “too many chiefs and not enough braves.”


5) “If you want a project done then give it to the busiest person you can find.  They are the ones who will get things done.”

On behalf of busy people everywhere, I hope the one who came up with such a zany notion is serving time in prison somewhere.  Please!   Give us busy people a break!  Dumping is never an acceptable form of cooperation of even delegation.  If you do not understand the task of busy people then you have no business adding to their toil.

The other part that always bothered me with this fallacy is why you have to hand it off to someone else.  Let me give it to you straight: Get off your duff and do it yourself!


6) The End Justifies the Means

AKA, “Let’s do whatever we can to build a business and then when we make it big, we’ll go legit.”

Ethics call us to higher order of lifestyle.  The unethical leader is soon recognized for poor interactions and the loss of credibility is soon sacrificed.  Whatever gets them through the next five minutes is good enough.  But the Christian leader is expected to hold something more.  The standards do not slide from day to day, and from mood to mood.  Greedy gains must always held in question.  They see themselves as accountable to others as well as to God.

Wisdom dictates that once a slippery road of behavior like this one is embarked upon that knowing when enough is enough is simply not going to happen.  The easy gains are much too addictive.  Our greed will play those opportunities out to the max, especially when the profits are lean and a season of adjustment arrives.  Do you honestly believe you will know how to hold the standard when the pressure is on?

The Christian must begin with the right desire, from the outset.  Too many temptations will assault our equilibrium.  And the biggest saboteur of righteousness has always been the human ability to “rationalize.”  We may assume a theoretical path, but in reality it’s just not gonna happen.  Time to get real!  Begin with honest initiatives and following through with the chance of integrity.  A foul start cannot build right ethics to honor God nor our own conscience.

Matthew 7:24-27,

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”




“It’s said that “power corrupts,” but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power. When they do act, they think of it as service, which has limits. The tyrant, though, seeks mastery, for which he is insatiable, implacable.”

David Brin, The Postman (Chapter 14; p. 267)


“All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.”

Frank Herbert, Chapterhouse: Dune (1985)



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