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Pete Enns & The Bible for Normal People

The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful [fill in the blank]

The Bible for Normal People

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.

Recently, a friend of mine–former professor in Christian higher education, currently in the witness protection program hiding from the Christian Taliban–passed on to me this article by Eric Jackson (expert in Strategic Management) and published in Forbes, “The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives.”

My friend felt this article spoke to some of his experiences, and he asked me what I thought. Knowing his story, I see his point.

Below is the author’s list of seven habits with a brief snippet from the article. I am NOT suggesting that all Christian organizations are implicated (sheesh), but the habits Jackson describes from the business world and those of some Christian organizations–whether academic, ecclesiastical, or para-church–are  disappointingly analogous.

And let me add, these habits pertain not only to Christian leaders. Defensiveness, arrogance, and stubbornness can be played out in each of our lives on a personal level.

Habit # 1:  They [executives] see themselves and their companies as dominating their environment. “CEOs who fall prey to this belief suffer from the illusion of personal pre-eminence: Like certain film directors, they see themselves as the auteurs of their companies.  As far as they’re concerned, everyone else in the company is there to execute their personal vision for the company.”

Habit #2:  They identify so completely with the company that there is no clear boundary between their personal interests and their corporation’s interests. “Instead of treating companies as enterprises that they needed to nurture, failed leaders treated them as extensions of themselves.  And with that, a ‘private empire’ mentality took hold.”

Habit #3:  They think they have all the answers. “Leaders who are invariably crisp and decisive tend to settle issues so quickly they have no opportunity to grasp the ramifications. Worse, because these leaders need to feel they have all the answers, they aren’t open to learning new ones.”

Habit #4:  They ruthlessly eliminate anyone who isn’t completely behind them. “[B]y eliminating all dissenting and contrasting viewpoints, destructive CEOs cut themselves off from their best chance of seeing and correcting problems as they arise. Sometimes CEOs who seek to stifle dissent only drive it underground. Once this happens, the entire organization falters.”

Habit #5: They are consummate spokespersons, obsessed with the company image. “When CEOs are obsessed with their image, they have little time for operational details.”

Habit #6: They underestimate obstacles. “[W]hen CEOs become so enamored of their vision, they often overlook or underestimate the difficulty of actually getting there. And when it turns out that the obstacles they casually waved aside are more troublesome than they anticipated, these CEO have a habit of plunging full-steam into the abyss.”

Habit #7: They stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past. “In their desire to make the most of what they regard as their core strengths, they cling to a static business model.They insist on providing a product to a market that no longer exists, or they fail to consider innovations in areas other than those that made the company successful in the past.”

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