Leadership Cutlery: How not to use it

The Chicago Bears offense looked great two weeks ago (of course the Bucs defense looked great two weeks ago, so a week can make a big difference!). This past Thursday, they looked terrible. But they had to and have to deal with more than a loss. Quarterback Jay Cutler got physical and berated one of his offensive lineman. 

While there are 52 other players on the roster, the QB is often the main leader, the face of the team. So the leader of the team, or at least someone in a prominent leadership position, blamed his failure to complete passes to his team’s inability (he did complete a number to the other team) to protect him. It wasn’t his fault, it was their fault.
I don’t claim to be the best leader in the world, but I think most of us can smell bad leadership a mile away. Some of his teammates really don’t like that smell. Count Cornerback D.J. Moore among them.

“I don’t think you can act like that, though. To make it seem like it’s just my fault or what not, I think it’s just wrong, though honestly,” Moore said, via Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “I would feel a certain way if he did me like that, to make it seem like, ‘Well, the reason I’m having a bad game is because is what you’re doing and not about me taking accountability for myself because I’m throwing these type of passes and doing these type of reads.’ It’s a tough situation.”

One thing that I’ve learned as a pastor, and I wish I had learned more than I already have learned (if that makes sense), is that there are certain things you just can’t say or do as a pastor. There are certain things you just can’t say or do as a leader. As a parent, as a teacher, as anyone holding any leadership position. Often times you just can’t share how you feel. You don’t have the same freedom as someone not in leadership. That is something you forfeit when you say “yes” to any leadership position.

Cutler claims passion and drive as excuses for such behavior. In fact, it seems as though incidents like these are simply fueled from these normally positive emotions.

“I care about this,’’ Cutler said of the incident with Webb, via Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. “This isn’t just a hobby for me. If we’re not doing things the right way, I’m going to say something. If they want a quarterback that doesn’t care then they better get someone else.’’

As a leader you should be open and honest, but you cannot be open and honest about everything and to everyone. Remember Tom Hanks’ line in Saving Private Ryan, “Gripes go up. I don’t gripe to you?”

Let’s learn from Hanks and Cutler. Tell another leader when folks let you down. Tell another leader when you feel it is primarily the fault of another. You can be open and honest about most everything with other leaders, even those leading you, but not with those you are trying to lead.

And when you eventually say or do those things which leaders just cannot say or do, remember to repent. Sometimes it will be too late to undo the damage. I’ve been there. But God is honored with the repentant leader.

Leaders who recognize their flaws are leaders worth following. I would guess Cutler’s teammates would give him another shot if he would just repent. But I like the chances much greater when leaders regularly preach grace and then recognize their actual and present need for grace. Those are the kind of leaders I get behind. Leaders that watch their mouth, and when they forget, they watch the cross.

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