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Honest Feedback Restores a Leader

Bob Merritt, pastor of the Eagle Brook Church in Minnesota, writes movingly about what he called his "ministry meltdown" (although his "meltdown" could apply to anyone in any type of leadership role). Merritt felt overworked and overwhelmed, and the cracks started showing up in harsh comments and bursts of anger towards his family and his staff. Emotionally, he felt depleted and afraid, but he didn't have the time or energy to address the issues that were bubbling under the surface of his life.

Finally, his leadership team forced Merritt to look under the surface by entering a year-long intervention with a leadership coach named Fred. Merritt writes:

Fred and his assistant interviewed all my family members, most of my staff, and all of my closest friends with a series of 60 questions that essentially asked, "What's good about Bob, and what's bad about Bob?" The candid responses were recorded in a 200-page document that Fred and his assistant read back to me, word for word, during a two-day intervention.
For two solid days I sat and listened while Fred read statements like: "Bob overlooks relationships and lacks interpersonal skills in working with people." "Bob doesn't listen well." "Bob doesn't manage his staff. There's no love. He's unapproachable." "Bob speaks before he thinks." "Bob has a love problem." "I know that Bob cares, but he's not gifted in showing it."
What really nailed me was when I heard these words from my son, David: "My dad is angry a lot." When Fred read those words to me, he looked up from the page and just let them sink into my soul. I had to look away …. Never in my life had I become so convicted over how flawed I had become.
When you hear the same themes repeated over and over again from a variety of people who've experienced what it's like to be on the other side of you, it gets your attention …. It broke me. And it was the beginning of my new life.
When I started seeing Fred, I told him that I was afraid I might not be able to change. Fred has seen hundreds of CEO types, and he says the success rate is around 40 percent. The other 60 percent continue to stumble and often end up losing their jobs and families. He said the difference is humility. Those who turn the corner and take their leadership and lives to a new level are those who are humble enough to receive feedback and take it seriously.
So if you're worn out or confused; if you're afraid and somewhat paranoid about what others are saying or thinking about you; if you're angry, feeling alone, and misunderstood, I urge you to ask this vital question: Am I humble enough to address the cracks?

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