Marriage Leadership: How Husbands Can Step into Their Leadership Role

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Is there a leadership epidemic going on in American marriages? My heart breaks for the number of wives who are calling me for marriage coaching only a couple of years after saying, “I do.” They now wish they could undo it with “I don’t, at least not anymore.” In what feels like their last hope, they are reaching out for help.

Quite frankly men break out in a cold sweat when they hear, “We need to go to marriage coaching,” because they confuse it with the dreaded word “counseling.” I can’t tell you the number of reluctant men who become avid marriage coaching supporters. Professional athletes have coaches, so why shouldn’t couples have a marriage coach to work toward a best-in-class marriage.

Although it’s never just one thing that causes marriage strive, a major underpinning I see in my practice is the husband who shuns his leadership responsibilities or lacks the self-confidence to lead. Wives are not only frustrated when their husbands don’t lead, they resent having to pick up the slack and take on their husband’s leadership role. How can couples right-side poor marriage leadership?

INITIAL STEPS A COUPLE CAN TAKE TO CHANGE DIRECTION

(1) Initiate an honest conversation about leadership in the home

A wife should share with her husband what she believes her husband is doing well in leading her and the family. She should be specific in calling out measurable behaviors. Then a wife should share how her husband could lead her better. She might suggest initiating daily prayer as a couple, setting financial goals, and living on a budget that will achieve a future vision.

(2) Create a vision and mission for your marriage

Companies have visions and missions, so they know their purpose and the direction the leadership is taking the team. What’s good for business is also good for marriages. A marriage should also have a vision, mission, and a strategic plan that achieves them. Husbands gain leadership points when they initiate conversations with their wives to dream and develop a marriage vision and mission together.

(3) Rely on God’s Word for wisdom and discernment

I haven’t met a wife yet who doesn’t want a husband who relies on God and Biblical principles to lead his family in planning and decision-making. She may not always agree with his decisions, but a wife, more than not, will support her husband’s decisions, when she knows he’s not making decisions for his own selfish pleasures. Words of advice for husbands—take your family to church, join Bible studies, serve others, pray together, and embrace servant leadership principles. Your wife will love you for it!


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/marriage, and financial coaching. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

Marriage: Why Some Husbands Fail to Lead

(Part 2 in a 3-Part Series)


Sandra Dillon: February 19, 2018


Husband leading wifeIn Marriage: Why Wives Need Husbands Who Lead, the article explained why it’s necessary for husbands to be servant leaders in their marriages. Sadly, society’s messages and the impact of broken families have conspired to undermine men’s confidence and ability to lead well. Boys don’t have biological and spiritual fathers in their homes, who can show them how to become successful leaders as they journey into manhood. Even when a man acknowledges he should lead better, many still struggle with how to step into these behaviors. Evans (2012) brings insight into the underlying contributors to the four types of damaging leadership styles that are playing out in today’s marriages.

Damaging Leadership Styles

Evans (2012) describes four major types of “destructive” husbands—referring to one who knowingly or unknowingly destroys his marriage by how he leads his wife and family. Characteristics of each type are:

  1. Dominant: pride overrules humility; control-driven; rules over versus rules with; dominates into oppression
  2. Passive: wears the uniform but won’t do the dirty work; no accountability; sulks or withdraws when he doesn’t get his way
  3. Immoral: lusts for other women; sexual promiscuity in mind, body, and spirit
  4. Distracted: ruled by busyness and selfish pursuits; focuses on job, hobby, recreation over family; unhealthy priorities

Damaging Leadership Causes

Evans (2012) also discusses several potential underlying causes that create men with damaging leadership styles. Hopefully, the following insights will bring awareness and discussion about the sources and behaviors that result in unhealthy leadership. I appreciate the leadership role that men were designed to hold and want women to receive the blessing of security that leadership brings. My hope is that once a couple understands the forces that impact a husband’s leadership style, he’ll make changes to put the couple on the path to a dream marriage.

Dominant Leadership Style

Some husbands who dominate their wives may have been under-nurtured as a boy or had detached parents—having never received words of encouragement or the attention and affection he needed. He’s not able to give what he doesn’t have.

Another reason may be mis-modeling by a boy’s parents during his formative years, where he’s carrying dominant behaviors forward into the next generation.  His behaviors reflect his desire to master control over people and his world.

Dominance can also be sourced from insecurity. Without a father in the home as a child, a boy doesn’t learn how to love and respect a woman or know how to develop a healthy relationship.

In some cases, the husband simply has a dominant personality temperament. In all cases, a dominant husband focuses on control versus serving his wife.

Passive Leadership Style

Converse to the dominant leader, a passive husband can mature out of a boyhood journey where he was over-led or over-nurtured by his parents. Because his parents made too many of his decisions and over-controlled his behaviors, he never learned to do for himself or developed appropriate self-control.

Like the plight of dominants, passive husbands may have also suffered from parental mis-modeling or been born with a passive temperament.

Interpretation of the women’s movement has also intimidated some men. Chastised for certain views and behaviors, they are reluctant to assert themselves and choose to do nothing versus do the wrong thing.

In some cases, passive husbands may just be lazy. Initially, they seem sweet and accommodating, but later they drive their spouses crazy as these wives are forced into picking up the slack.

Immoral Leadership Style

Pornography has gripped the minds, spirits, and finances of an untold number of men. Some of this immoral behavior can be rooted in rejection by a man’s parents. When boys are deprived from physical affection during boyhood, they can easily develop a stronger appetite for physical contact than normal.

Pornography taps into men’s heightened responsiveness to visual stimulation. Sadly, when a husband has an interest in pornography, many wives feel devalued. These women express feeling “not enough” for their husbands.

Distracted Leadership Style

A distracted husband is too busy with his own interests to make his wife and family a priority. “Performance motivation” may be the source of this distraction, where a man only felt love and approval by his parents when he performed.

A second cause may just be greed. He justifies his behavior under the disguise of working hard to provide the family, when in truth, the husband is starving them of attention.

In some case, a distracted leadership style is simply an expression of distorted values and thinking—believing wives and families are extensions of their work and lives.

Some husbands are distracted due to unresolved conflict within the marriage. In these situations, men typically turn their attention to work where they get recognition, appreciation, respect, and admiration.

Do You Identify with One of These Leadership Styles?

People are generally challenged to see themselves as others see them, so it’s unlikely that a husband would read this and identify with one of these leadership styles. If your marriage is not a dream marriage, I would seriously consider whether one of these leadership types are at work within your relationship. You may get more insight by asking your spouse:

  1. How would you describe our marriage?
  2. What characteristics and behaviors do you appreciate most in me?
  3. What characteristics and behaviors do you wish I would change?
  4. What would change look like in action?

Answers to these questions will hopefully bring greater understanding and stimulate the conversation to find ways in working toward a healthier marriage.

Next Up in the Series

Women want to be led—led in the right way. Leadership is a complex subject, and hopefully, this article provides insights into why some men don’t lead as well as they should. Regardless of the contributing factors to poor leadership, men are not absolved from the responsibility of leading well. In the final part of this three-part series, we will explore “How men can change and learn to lead well.”

For those readers who may be wondering whether there’s help for destructive wives—ones who refuse to be led by their husbands.  The answer is yes and that is another series.

Reference

Evans, J. (2012) Marriage on the Rock: God’s Design for Your Dream Marriage. Dallas, TX: MarriageToday


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and premarital/marriage coaching.  She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

Leaders Are Servants


The Essence of Global Leadership Summit (GLS)

How do you summarize the information and inspiration that are captured and released upon those who come to Willow Creek Church (WCC) in Barrington, Illinois, for the annual Global Leadership Summit (www.willowcreekglobalsummit.com) or on those who choose to spend two days in a church, prison or other venue across the United States and Canada to soak in the wisdom and blessings via satellite streaming?  I struggle with how to convey the power of GLS to transform your thoughts, thinking, and behaviors towards becoming a better leader.  As Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek, passionately loves to say, “Everyone wins when a leader gets better.”  My response is, “Amen! I want to hear more.”

IMG_0340For those who may never have heard of GLS, let me briefly describe the value of this annual two-day personal investment of your time?  In a nutshell, GLS brings together leaders, who are moving forward, learning, struggling, and succeeding in their fields of leadership, who have a servant heart, and who desire to share with the world their knowledge, so people can become better at leading themselves, their families, colleagues, and their communities.  As such the speakers come from diverse backgrounds and cover leadership in faith-based organizations, political arenas, businesses, and other non-profit government organizations (NGO). There is something for everyone.  The messages transcend religion, culture, and lifestyles.

Past leaders whose names you probably recognize include Jack Welch, Jim Collins, Ed Catmull, Brene Brown, Tyler Perry, Carly Fiorina, Louie Giglio, General Colin Powell, Mark Burnett, and Condoleezza Rice. Many other speakers, who may not be as well-known as CEOs and celebrities, were just as impactful in their research findings and areas of expertise.  GLS 2016 did not disappoint and included some new and returning favorite speakers advancing new topics.  This year’s lineup included Bill Hybels, Alan Mulally, Melinda Gates, Jossy Chacko, Travis Bradberry, Patrick Lencioni, Chris McChesney, Erin Meyer, John Maxwell, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Danielle Strickland, Horst Schulze, and Wilfredo De Jesus.

In order to give you a taste of GLS, I have summarized and provided commentary on one key message shared by Bill Hybels.

Bill Hybels: The Lenses of Leadership

Bill discussed four types of eyewear that every leader should try on and decide how well the lenses are working to correct his/her leadership vision.  The first pair are the red hot passion lenses which beg the question, “Are you presiding over people or energizing people to get from HERE to THERE?” Studies show that a leader gets a Bill Hybels40% performance differential from motivated versus unmotivated people.  How does a leader get more passion? Passion is typically inspired by a dream, outrage, or extreme frustration which forces one to become an unstoppable force to create change.  When you put on your ruby red eyeglasses, how filled is your passion bucket?  Are you satisfied with the passion you have in life and how you are leading in your workplace and family?  If you are not satisfied, what are you going to do about it?  After all, it is the leader’s job to fill his own passion bucket and no one else’s.  If you don’t know where to start, pick up a book of interest, go to places that stir your soul, or hang out with passionate people.  Passion can be contagious!   Help just one person, and you will be surprised how your passion bucket begins to fill.

The second pair of eyeglasses to try on are the shattered lenses.  How many leaders are operating in or perpetuating a fear-based organization versus honoring people and building well-functioning cultures that are performance oriented!  Organizations will only be as healthy as the leader’s desire and intent.   Sometimes the shattered lenses are so close to the leader’s eyes that s/he cannot see clearly what the culture has become.  If the leader’s true heartfelt desire is to lead and love well, how does a leader get a true perspective?  If you are a work organization, you can hire an independent firm to survey the culture.  If you are leading your family, you can ask trusted family and friends for feedback without rebuttal or justification.  What many leaders forget, as they strive for results, is that God only values one thing—people.  God has entrusted leaders with his treasures—his people.  Sometimes leaders lose sight of the journey and its people while trying to reach a goal.

How can a leader both coach and support people to be all that God intended them to be?  The first step is to increase self-awareness and expose their talents.  Some people have never self-reflected or taken inventory of their talents and don’t know where to start.  If you don’t know what you’re really good at, ask those who are closest to you.  Most of your friends, family, and coworkers have already done an informal assessment of your strengths and weaknesses. After all, they typically discuss this in small groups around the water cooler or coffee bar.  What can organizations do with this knowledge?  How about matching people’s strengths with roles that would take advantage of those strengths and minimize the impact of weaknesses.

The third pair of specialized eyewear are the performance self-adjusting lenses.  All organizations typically come together for a purpose, which usually includes setting and achieving goals whether formal or implied.  Companies have goals for revenue, profit, safety, and customer satisfaction.  Even families have goals such as raising healthy and independent adult children.  Churches have goals such as the number of people served or number of members who have joined.  In general, the speed of the leader equals the speed of the team in achieving those goals.   This correlation begs the question of how can goals impact the speed of the team and what adjustments do leaders need to make?  Bill professed that WCC was once a goalaholic church, with too many goals and not enough people to carry out all the good ideas and initiatives.  You can imagine the results from goal overload, because many of you probably work in that environment today.  Burnout? Feeling a lack of appreciation?  Life becomes more about the goals and processes versus the people and the relationships?  How can a leader adjust, get his/her team to perform at higher levels, and boost the morale of the team all at the same time?  These are not opposing forces; leaders just need to readjust.

First, let us break a myth held by some leaders, which is that people are uncomfortable with performance feedback.  Truth, people want to know that their senior leaders are proud of their progress.  Truth, people want to know how they are doing and where they stand.  Truth, people want clarity and can accept negative feedback, if the truth is said with the spirit of love.  It is essentially cruel not to provide goals and give feedback.  Second, if you can embrace these truths, the next step is for the leader to set the vision/mission for the organization and then ask the team what the goals should be.  Each department should be empowered to develop strategies, decide and own measurable goals, and celebrate the successes.  If you have too many or two few goals, you will not have clarity.  Entrust your team to find the perfect balance to prioritize and focus on the win.

What is in your leadership rearview mirror?  The fourth pair of eyeglasses that Bill perched atop his nose were the legacy lenses.  Have you peeked lately into your rearview mirror to see what you have left behind as you moved people from HERE to THERE?  At least on an annual basis, leaders should reflect on their legacy, self-evaluate, and learn how to do better.  Leadership is about energy, and Bill suggested drawing an energy pie to determine where you are putting your energy: work, family, church, community, others, etc.

God designed us to flourish holistically, and in many cases we are putting all our energy into our work.  How do you need to redistribute your energy across the pie slivers?  What areas should remain untouched, which need a do-over, or perhaps one or more just need a make-over?  It is never too late to change the course if you act now.  Legacies can change in an instant, and the proof was in the simple yet powerful story of the thief on the cross next to Jesus who said, “Jesus remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And he [Jesus] said to him, “Truly I say to you, today, you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43).  As Bill reminded us of that short Scripture, he also mentioned that 43 prisons were watching this leadership summit live.

Regardless of your religious background, your profession, or your family status, everyone of us is a leader. Global Leadership Summit is a golden ticket for some of the best leadership perspectives, insights, and best practices to become a better leader.  If you get 5% better as a leader by investing two days at GLS, is it not worth it?  GLS will be hosted on August 10-11, 2017 at over 600 locations nationwide.  Visit https://www.willowcreek.com/events/leadership to learn more.