The 5 Words a Leader NEVER Wants to Hear

How this night out for pizza taught some important leadership lessons.

The pepperoni finally fought back!!! My family was having a relaxing dinner at our favorite pizza spot. We love this restaurant because the pizza literally comes out of the oven and is placed right then on your table. It is very juicy, still sizzling and VERY hot!

Anyone who eats hot pizza knows how stringy the cheese gets. As I took a bite of pizza, the stringy cheese pulled a piece of pepperoni along with it so it landed flush on my chin. Think of it as a steaming, hot pepperoni patch! The burn caused me to jerk back and subsequently left a mark on my face for the next three days. I then said to my wife the five words no leader wants to hear: “I Didn’t See That Coming.”

Muhammad Ali said, “It’s not the hardest punch that knocks you out. It’s the one you never see coming.” Leaders, what knocks us out are those things we never see coming.

The following are just some of the leadership items that can often blindside us.

  1. Betrayal
  2. Health Issues
  3. Marketplace Changes
  4. Staff Transitions
  5. Inner Circle Conflicts
  6. Slumps
  7. Improved Competition
  8. Technology Advancements
  9. Losing a Great Client
  10. Family Issues—Anyone with a spouse, children or aging parents knows we are all one phone call away from our life changing forever.

Leaders are always going to be blindsided. The key is you are not CONSTANTLY blindsided. The following are 10 things you can do to be proactive in your leadership:

  1. Invest in people. They are your only appreciable asset.
  2. As you are investing in people, do it from a relational foundation.
  3. Be a continual learner.
  4. Understand no one likes change but a baby. However, change is a constant and must be embraced.
  5. Put your family first. The greatest leadership begins at home.
  6. Have the discernment to know which things you have no control over.
  7. Do not take the positive things or relationships in your life for granted.
  8. Save money for downturns in the economy and seasonal dips.
  9. Eat right, exercise and get regular check-ups to protect your health. This is my biggest challenge.
  10. When life knocks you down, remember getting knocked down is not failure. Staying down is.

Leaders, there are always things that happen in our life we do not see coming. However, if you practice the 10 items listed above, it may lessen the blow. How do handle getting blindsided?

Brian Dodd
Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. See for additional insights.