Five Temptations of a CEO


Your success as a leader can come down to practicing a few vital behaviors.

"All chief executive who fail – and most of them do at one time or another –  make the same basic mistakes; they succumb to one (or more!) of the five temptations" ~ Patrick Lencioni in the Five Temptations of a CEO.

Temptation One - Protecting Your Career

I grew up in the church, and realized quite quickly that pastoring gave you a “status” and a following. Being a pastor kind of put you and your family into a glass bowl and I saw how my pastors were treated, both good and bad. When I became a pastor, I thought I was prepared for the “status” that comes with the job, but I don’t know if anyone can fully be prepared for what that means, both the positive sides of that and the negative ones.

One of the things I had to learn was how to discern between followers and just fans. The biggest difference I see between followers and fans are that fans “say they support you” and followers “show their support in their actions.” It took me a while as a leader to discern between followers and fans, and to be honest I still get it wrong sometimes, because it is in my nature as a pastor to think the best of everyone. I have learned, and I hope this doesn’t sound cynical, because it is not, but I have learned to not be too moved by compliments and praise and to pay more attention to the actions of those around me.

Patrick Lencioni, in the book The Five Temptations of a CEO, says that great CEOs should be overwhelmed with the need to achieve something. That it is achievement, not ego that drives them.

Temptation Two - Wanting to be Popular with Your Direct Reports Instead of Holding Them Accountable

Lencioni says the best approach in this area is to go for respect rather than affection. He says CEOs must view their employees as “key employees” who must deliver.

It can be difficult to keep just the right distance between yourself with your direct reports as both their boss and their Pastor. To be honest, this is the temptation I struggle with the most. This is my weakness. I love people and I want people to love me. Holding people truly accountable for their results is an area that I continually struggle with. I remember when I first began coaching sports, I was an assistant coach first, and the head coach had to pull me aside to reprimand me for hanging out with the players too much as their friends and said that they wouldn’t respect me as a coach if I got too close. I think I was 18 or 19 at the time. So, this has always been a struggle for me. How do I keep the right distance? I don’t know if I have truly figured that out yet, to be honest. I’m still working on that one.

Temptation Three - Ensuring Your Decisions are Correct

It's the temptation to choose “certainty” over clarity, to "fear being wrong so much that they wait until they are absolutely certain about something before they make a decision." 

When information isn’t certain; Lencioni says go for clarity in what you do know.  I don’t wrestle too much with fear in my decision making process. I think I struggle more with the fear of inaction or stalled progress, so I will make a decision just to keep things moving. I live by a creed that it’s easier to steer a moving car than a parked one. Basically; I make a decision and if it’s the wrong one, then I change it as I’m going.

When it comes to a team, I have found a major benefit in including others around me in the decision making process. When we decide together, we will all be bought in to make it work. This is huge when it comes to leadership. The downside to that, is that it sometimes stalls out the process and lends itself to the previous temptation of trying to make everyone happy. When you include others, it is very rare that everyone will agree. So, it comes to a point when you will have to make a decision that will go directly against someone else’s advise — that’s when I will stall out or take too long to make the decision.

I do my best to make sure everybody knows as much information as I can possible share with them without compromising the organization or other members in the organization. High communication is vital to an organizations health.  But, sometimes it is just not possible to share everything. So, when those times happen I do my best to make sure that those who need to know, know. And for the rest, I will share what I can to give them a heads up that something is coming so to avoid surprises that might side swipe them.

Another stall point for people is when it comes to making decisions with limited information. I have found that if you are waiting to make the decision until you have ALL of the information, it is probably too late and you missed the window of opportunity. 

I remember when Joy-Lynn and I were first married and we made the decision to move to Canmore to help with a brand new church plant. I had to find a job in Canmore as the church was far too small to support a salary. The only job I could find was a part time job that only paid $8 an hour. I was supposed to move my new wife into a town where rent was some of the most expensive in Canada on a part time, low paying job. But, we both felt that we needed to make the call, so we did it. And, in my first shift on the the job, a day after we moved into town, I was offered the assistant manager’s position because the previous one had just quit. I never did work a part time shift and I was given an immediate raise.  If I had waited, I probably would have missed the opportunity for the manager's position.

[bctt tweet="You can't move forward in the face of uncertainty if you aren't willing to make mistakes." username="kellystickel"]

One of my most recent decisions that hasn’t come to fruition but I made without having all the information, was when I decided to announce to our congregation in December that we would hold Easter Sunday service in the Enmax. The Enmax is our local hockey arena and holds thousands and would have allowed us to do one service, in one location in Lethbridge. At the time, the Enmax was favourable to the idea but we hadn’t signed a contract yet. So, I announced it. Then, the local hockey team, the Hurricanes, went on a great playoff run and we were unable to get the venue for Easter. 

Did that cause any diverse consequences, or did I lose any ground with your team or congregation over it? Yes, I probably did. Leadership equity is difficult to earn and easy to lose. I spent some equity there and I know that my next big idea will probably not be fully trusted because I didn’t deliver on the last one. So, I will need to get some wins under my belt in order to earn that equity back.

Temptation Four - Desire for Harmony

The choice is “harmony vs productive conflict”. It is really is a fine balance. I don’t mind conflict and I appreciate differing opinions, but often that conflict leads to frustration or personal attacks among the team and that just can’t be tolerated. I think a key that I have learned in this area, is an idea my friend and mentor Leon Fontaine taught me. He calls it “pulling threads”. This refers to the phenomena of having a loose thread on a sweater. Sometimes you pull it and it’s just a lose thread, other times you pull it and it unravels the whole sweater. He used this analogy to talk about investigating areas in the organization where you, as the leader, are sensing tension or that something is just not right. So, when that happens, go pull the thread. Ask questions, investigate, inspect. I’ve practiced this for years and it has saved me a number of times and has allowed us to resolve little conflicts before they became big ones.

Temptation Five - Vulnerability

The 5th Temptation concerns “vulnerability”.  Leaders have to encourage their followers to challenge their ideas.  That means trusting them with your ego and even your reputation. 

There have been times when people have challenged one of my ideas and it turns out they were right. It happens a lot, actually. Especially in our creative meetings. It happens so fluently with our team that I think we talk through ideas until we all come to a consensus and it feels like it was all of our own original ideas because we were all part of the process. The best way to make decisions is to check your ego at the door, so much so, that you don’t own an idea and take it as a personal assault if that idea isn’t taken. It is so key in every organization. 

The Five Temptations of a CEO
  1.  Protecting your career
  2.  Wanting to be popular
  3.  Waiting until your decisions are correct
  4.  Desire for Harmony
  5. Not being vulnerable

Of the five temptations, which do I find most destructive to leadership and to startup organizations and churches? Well, in start-ups I’d say number 1. If you are more worried about your own reputation and position you will not build the team around you that is necessary to get your church or organization off the ground. You must build into others and elevate others or your organization will stay very small or fail.

[bctt tweet="One is too small a number to achieve greatness. ~@JohnCMaxwell" username="kellystickel"]

It is so important to guard against the enticement of these 5 Temptations in Church leadership today because like John Maxwell says, “one is too small a number to achieve greatness.” And all of these temptations have to do with building and working with a team. In order for us to impact the world we need to build dynamic teams. That’s why Jesus designed the church, to be a team that brings Him to the world. If we do this right the church effectively becomes the hope of the world effectively on a mission to reach every available person, at every available time, by every available means with the Gospel of Jesus Christ by creating churches unchurched people love to attend.

Shifting Gears


"Unsuccessful people focus their thinking on survival. Average people focus their thinking on maintenance. Successful people focus their thinking on progress." (excerpt from Thinking for a Change by John Maxwell) How does a beginning leader switch gears from thinking like a follower to thinking like a leader?



A follower is working for someone and thinks more about what they are doing and on keeping that someone happy. A leader needs to think big picture and work ON the organization instead of FOR the organization.

Even when your followers think “big picture”, and it would be great if all of the team took that level of ownership, it would challenge me as a leader to then keep them all looking in the same direction and working toward the same end.

Think like an owner

Craig Groeschel challenges leaders to think like an owner not like an employer when he says: “Leadership is more about how you think than what you do”.

Everyone on my team is looking to me for direction and for vision. In order to get the desired results I will need to think big picture. After all, the primary responsibility of a leader is to be the vision carrier. It is up to you to see most clearly ahead and decide the right path to take. It's why you are the leader. If you don’t have the vision, you aren’t the leader.

Don't Collect 'Monkeys'

This doesn't mean you are responsible for everything, in fact you must prioritize what's primary to your success. In Ken Blanchard’s book the “One Minute Manager and the Monkey”, he states that if you, as the leader, are the busiest person in your business then you are leading wrong. In his words, you are accepting all of the “monkey’s”. The monkeys represent the next thing to do. He describes the problem of employees running to the leader with their problems and the leader saying, don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it. You are training your followers to turn to you as the answer guy.

Instead Blanchard teaches leaders to ask the employee for 3 ideas on how to they would solve the problem, that way they go away with the monkey. Once they have the 3 solutions, he asks them to pick which one they would most recommend. Now the leader has his team working solving problems and they learn how to be expert problem solvers in the process. That book really revolutionized the way I led and immediately changed my perspective from being busy to being productive. While it a major gear shift in my thinking it took some time for my team to feel secure enough with it, that I could confidently put the monkey back on them.

Teaching your team to operate this way is a process. You have to firstly help them with the process of decision making. Help them separate a good idea from a bad one. And then walk them through with how to choose the best idea and then how to implement it. You gain confidence in your team and they gain confidence in you when you walk together through that process.

Recently our team studied parallel thinking from De Bono’s book “Six thinking hats” which will be looking at during next week's podcast but I want to give you a little sneak peek. De Bono’s book is brilliant because it offers a solution to the age old problem of each of us viewing problems and situations differently based on our outlook on things. Imagine a normal box shaped house. One person is standing in front of the house. One person is standing behind the house. Two other people are standing on each side of the house. All four have a different view of the house. All four are arguing (by intercom) that the view each is seeing is the correct view of the house. What would happen if all four of the people were to stand beside each other and together walk around the house? In traditional thinking, if two people disagree, there is an argument in which each tries to prove the other party wrong. In parallel thinking, both views, no matter how contradictory, are put down in parallel. If, later on, it is essential to choose between the differing positions, then an attempt to choose is made at that point. If a choice cannot be made, then the design has to cover all possibilities. What if there was a way to run our meetings in such a way that we could all look at a situation in the same way, from the same point of view, at the same time and then rotate around to the next perspective together? That’s the basis of the 6 thinking hats. It is really working with making our meetings more effective — and shorter!

Determine your Top 3

We live in an amazing information generation. Dave Nelson says there is 10X more information available today than there was 3 years ago.Filtering through all the information coming at you and learning to separate the relevant from the just interesting is vital to your success as a leader. I have people giving me books and sending me articles to read all of the time. Of course, I can’t get to all of them, so I prioritize by always being aware of what top 3 problems I am trying to solve right now in my organization. And I read and gather information on just those topics right now and table other interesting information to be read later.

I file those resources into Evernote and categorize them according to topics so that when I face a problem I already have banked sources of solutions at might fingertips.

Think on a New Level

If you want to lead on a new level, you have to think on a new level. When I was still pastoring a very small church, I began a relationship with 2 of my mentors, who were both mega-church leaders. Through them, I began to hang around other mega leaders and found that I was becoming more and more comfortable being with high caliber leaders. I wasn’t seeing mega results, and wouldn’t for some time, but I did push myself to think like a mega pastor, before I would get there.

Sometimes asking the right questions gains you a fresh perspective, but shifting gears to this level of leadership requires deliberate effort. One of my mentors to this day is Dr. George Hill. Before we began, I read all of his books and listened to all of his messages over the course of a number of years. I wanted to learn how he thought. When I discovered who he was and his amazing gifts, as I began meeting with him I would shape my questions around that gift to try and draw everything I could out of him. Then, as I was pastoring and encountered problems and roadblocks in my ministry, I would keep a running list of questions in my phone. When I had a chance to speak with him the next time, I’d ask him. I was prepared.

Focus on Who is in Front of You

In one day you can be celebrating with someone who just got saved to hearing from someone who is leaving the church, upset at you because you didn’t do enough, to celebrating with a family during a wedding, to grieving with a family at a funeral, to going to an intense board meeting to discuss the complexities of the finances, to going into a sensitive counselling session with someone who is giving up. All of this can happen in a day, and you have to be at your best for everyone, because they all matter! It’s a big job, but there is nothing quite as rewarding as it! I have learned to switch gears by focusing on who is in front of me instead of focusing on me and how I’m feeling. That’s when I’m at my best.

Ideation verses Implementation

I have learned that there is a big difference between ideation and implementation and they don’t often mix. So, I have learned as a leader who my ideation people are and who my implementation people are and I try to involve the right people at the right phase of a project. That way we can get the most out of everyone and I can get the help I need to switch gears in the process.

There are times when I have had to literally tell my team what stage we are in in discussions. Most of the time it is in the ideation process. I have to say we are just talking ideas here, we will need to work on a plan later. This protects me and the organization from having someone run ahead with a half-baked idea. Plus it helps me focus the conversation from becoming bogged down with all of the “how’s” that often kill creativity.

Mess with the Methods

There comes a time when every leader is challenged to switch gears from what has always worked to a new level of thinking that is more relevant for contemporary leadership. And its hard for leaders to shift their thinking out of their past way of thinking because change is hard. It always requires us to give up something we love or are comfortable with and it always requires us to lose something. It’s much easier in the short term to settle. But the truth is, if we don’t change we lose in the long term. We have to be always studying our results and if we begin slipping in our results we need to dig past the excuses and bring change. It really is change or die.

We are continually shifting gears at My Victory by messing with the methods of preaching the gospel to unchurched people, but we never compromise the Gospel. As pastors we often are accustomed to shifting gears spiritually but can struggle with shifting gears in our methods. It’s so easy for us to get focused on our methods and think that that is the only way to do things. We even think that the methods are the message, but that is not always the case. We have to always be willing to ask “why?” Why are we doing it that way? What result are we looking for? Are we getting the desired results? If we are not, who is? Is there a better way? Without compromising the message?

This shifting of gears with the methods has become my major heart cry because I am driven to fulfill the great commission Jesus gave the church, to make disciples. To populate Heaven and to plunder hell. If I stop seeing souls being saved and disciples being made, then something is wrong. And it is not the message! It is often the messenger. So I need to change, and always be changing… Because the church is the hope of the world and we are on a mission to reach every available person, by every available means, at every available time with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

How to Make Winning a Habit

“Successful people make right decisions early and manage those decisions daily.” ~John Maxwell

If you make a series of great decisions the result will be growth and success, which will only add to your busyness and eat away at your beautifully planned daily agenda. A great leader will not just win once, but will learn how to make winning a habit.

How to make winning a habit?

  1. Value the _____________ of winning.
  2. Losers over _____________ the outcome and under _____________ the process.

The process includes 2 major parts:

Part One is _____________  for the things that help you win

Part Two is _____________ from the things that hurt your chances to win.

Preparation _____________ pressure.

I must pull away from what is _____________ to do what is _____________ .

I must pull away from just _____________ time with people to instead _____________ time with people.

I must pull away from settling for _____________ approval to striving for _____________ approval.

I must pull away from _____________ to get motivated to motivating _____________ .

I must pull away from _____________ high performance to _____________ high performance.

I must pull away from paying the price _____________ to paying the price _____________.

I have identified in myself a few common things that hurt my chances for sustainable wins.

  1. ____________________.
  2. ____________________.
  3. ____________________.
  4. ____________________.

"We should invest 50 percent of our leadership amperage into the task of leading ourselves; and the remaining 50 percent should be divided into leading down, leading up, and leading laterally.” ~Dee Hock


The 7 Habits of Powerhouse Leaders

I have been an avid student of leadership and effective leaders. It's the first section I look for in any book store. It's what I watch for in movies. I love studying leaders and in the last 15 years I have searched for what separates the highly effective leaders from those who are less effective. I have discovered seven common habits of those who are among the most influential.

The following list is by no means exhaustive, however it has worked for powerhouse leaders of all genres whether they be in the church, business, sports, politics or other areas of leadership.

  1. Effective leaders have clarified their vision. Effective leaders have actually taken the time to list the areas of their lives that are most important to them. They have developed a personal life plan. They know who they want to be remembered by and what they want to be remembered for. While others tend to become bogged down by the details, effective leaders initially focus on “what” they want to accomplish before they look at “how” it will be accomplished. A great resource to help you clarify your vision is Michael Hyatt's e-book Creating a Personal Life Plan.
  2. Effective leaders have a developed personal growth plan. Effective leaders live by the "The Principle of the Path" - your direction, not your intention determines your destination. After they have firmly established their vision, they make a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly growth plan that reflects their values. These plans are flexible. They realize that the plans are subject to change, but the vision remains the same. They are stubborn with their vision but flexible with their plans. A great resource to help you build a personal growth plan is John Maxwell's book Today Matters.
  3. Effective leaders live their priorities. One of the most surprising habits common to most effective leaders, is the balanced life they lead. One would think that in order to be effective a leader would need to sacrifice everything else to devote the time and energy necessary to produce the desired results. However, after studying these leaders, I found that they were highly disciplined in allaspects of their lives. They schedule their priorities and don't expect them to just happen! It is discipline at first, then a routine, before it becomes a healthy habit. A great resource to help you keep your priorities in check is Andy Stanley's book When Work and Family Collide.
  4. Effective leaders have defined their culture. Effective leaders understand that culture trumps vision every time. They ask "Who am I?" "What are my non-negotiable values?" and "What do I believe?" Then they work within this personal culture. They even choose companies that believe as they do and refuse to work for organizations that have differing values, even sacrificing lucrative salaries for a cultural fit. A great resource to help you understand you personal culture is Simon Sinek's book Start With Why.
  5. Effective leaders have chosen to be students rather than critics. When something new comes on the scene, instead of criticizing it, effective leaders study it thoroughly. It's human nature to resist things we don’t understand and criticize things we can’t control. But effective leaders recognize that the temptation to resist new ideas has less to do with “it” and more to do with them. They also understand that the things we tend to criticize when we are a follower we will better understand when we become the leader.
  6. Effective leaders take time to dream and practice reflective thinking. Effective leaders don’t get bogged down in so much responsibility that all they dream about is vacations. They think bigger. They think ahead. And they plan for tomorrow’s needs today. They actually schedule daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly times to do nothing but dream as well as time to reflect on their leadership successes and mistakes. A great resource to help you develop leadership thinking habits is John Maxwell's book Thinking For a Change.
  7. Effective leaders stay the course. Effective leaders maintain a steady course. They may appear as overnight successes, but don't be fooled, they have established a daily discipline and a personal growth plan that has prepared them for the opportunities others simply miss. They do this by looking to a mentor to hold them accountable to their dream and plan. They choose their peers wisely and associate only with those that reflect their culture, and they have someone they are mentoring. They live for more than just their own success, they live for significance. They reproduce themselves.

Questions: Rate yourself 1 to 10 in all 7 of these habits. How are you doing? Which habit do you need to work on the most?