How Straw-House Thinking Sabotages Your Leadership

How Straw-House Thinking Sabotages Your Leadership

Once upon a time…

In a far off land there lived a leader who supervised three little pigs. The leader was committed to excellence in his life and in his organization. He knew there was a direct correlation between the quality of the houses his pigs built and the success they had in protecting themselves from the big, bad wolves.

control-sabotages-church-leadershipThe leader obsessed about every detail. He made it clear to his team of pigs that they, too, needed to obsess about every detail. It wasn’t long before the pigs realized that their interpretation of excellence might not be the same as their supervisor’s perception of excellence. Because of that, the pigs began to bring every decision about every detail to their leader. The pigs didn’t want to run the risk that they might not “get it right.”

Over time, the leader found himself in a challenging predicament. He was overwhelmed because he had to touch everything. And, he was frustrated that he was responsible for generating every new idea. For example, he was the one who originally developed the design for straw houses. His pigs built excellent straw houses. In fact, no one built straw houses any better. What they did, they did well. But, they were stuck.

The leader knew danger was coming through the potential threat of a menacing wolf. Having learned through his previous leadership, instead of telling the pigs the exact dimensions of the house they needed to build and the materials they needed to use. Instead, he learned that a smart leader empowers his little pigs to prepare for the next blowhard that knocks on their door, giving the pigs the freedom to design a strategy that the leader may never have considered. That is where innovation and creativity are birthed.

In the end, the leader in this story learned that sometimes values collide. It wasn’t his commitment to excellence that was his problem, control was the problem. His obsession with getting it right became a roadblock to progress. Through this, he discovered the need to empower his team with broad responsibilities to fulfill the organization’s mission while still holding them accountable to the overall vision and values. He needed to let the pigs take risks, and sometimes fail.


That leader is me.

I can quickly jump to “the answer” without giving my team the opportunity to discover a brand new solution. As a leader, it is easy to believe that managing every aspect of your team and each decision made will lead to the greatest success. However, it is letting go of the control and empowering your team into innovation that will get you where you want to go.

Here are 4 fundamental practices that lead to team and organizational improvement:

  • Understand that control leads to a stagnant team

  • Allow your team to infuse their passion into your organization’s mission

  • Empower your team to create rather than replicate

  • See failure as an opportunity for growth

The strength and effectiveness of a team is determined by leadership. The moral of the story is this:

If all I’ve known is straw houses and I control every detail of the construction, then my leadership will never generate brick house ideas.

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By | 2017-05-03T13:53:41+00:00 April 29th, 2017|Leadership|0 Comments

About the Author:

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Tony is Chief Strategic Officer at The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, he served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He’s written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.

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