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Church Leaders Should Emulate This CEO’s Example Of Emotional Intelligence

I’ve written before about the importance of church leaders having a high level of Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, and I always have my eye out for good examples. A key aspect of EQ is self-awareness. Specifically, the ability to identify your own response to a situation, see yourself as others see you, and then change your behavior accordingly. Recently I came across an amazing example of humility and self-awareness Bob Iger shared in an interview with CNBC. Last February, Bob Iger announced he was stepping down as CEO of Disney effective the end of 2021. In the interview Iger explained why he decided it was time to step down.

I Started Listening Less

Being the CEO of a company like Disney brings wealth, prestige, and power. It isn’t the kind of role that most people are going to walk away from unless they’re forced out. Yet, Iger voluntarily resigned when he started seeing warning signals in his leadership style that he knew were not good for the company.

“I started listening less,” Iger said of his leadership style. “It was a sign it was time for me to leave.” “I became a little bit more dismissive of other people’s opinions than I should have been,” said Iger. “That was an early sign that it was time. It wasn’t the only reason I left, but it was a contributing factor.” “Over time, I started listening less and maybe with a little less tolerance of other people’s opinions,” Iger continued. “Maybe because of getting a little bit more overconfident in my own opinions, which is sometimes what happens when you get built up.” His reason is a rare example of emotional intelligence from any CEO, especially from one who sits atop a global business empire. It’s also a powerful lesson for every church leader.

In my experience Iger is not the first leader to not listen to the opinions of people they work with. What I find unique is his willingness to admit it publicly. Reading between the lines you see that Iger explains that success has a cost. For a leader, the cost of success is that you start to think that it’s all because of you and that you are the smartest guy in the room. Iger refers to it as being “built up.” When that happens, you begin to think that your ideas and opinions are the only ones that really matter.

Why Is Not Listening Dangerous?

One of the hardest things for a church leader to do is to admit that they might be the thing that is preventing the church or ministry they are responsible for from growing, innovating or rising to the latest challenge it faces. It means admitting that there’s something that needs to change, and that thing is you. Iger understood the damage the refusal to receive the input and feedback of others can cause his personal leadership and the business he was entrusted to lead and recognized that it was time to make a change. I think Iger probably recognized at least some of the following dangers of not listening attentively and responsively to those you lead and serve.

  1. It comes across as arrogant. Let’s face it, humility is not that common among CEO’s, business leaders, and yes, even pastors. If you always have all the answers, never listen to others, or heed colleagues’ advice then you will be perceived as arrogant. Count on it.
  2. You might not receive all the information you need to make a well-informed decision. When you don’t listen to others you run the risk of missing a vital bit of information that could be the difference between success and failure.
  3. You might not make the best decision. Though your idea may be a good one, it might not be the best one if you don’t listen to the opinions of others.
  4. It’s disrespectful. When you don’t listen to those you lead and serve then they feel disrespected. And eventually they will stop approaching you with their opinions, ideas, and advice.
  5. It kills morale and motivation. When you are never listened to by your leader then you start looking for another position, or another leader.

To read about how to better listen to others click HERE.


Posted on February 22, 2022

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5