1 Samuel 14:39
“For, as the LORD liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die. But there was not a man among all the people that answered him.”
In the verse above, Saul’s leadership was quickly spiraling out of control. A man who started with so much promise became a leader who nobody wanted to follow. A man who was lauded by God became a man who lost the blessings of God. Though there were parts of his reign that his leadership was a model to follow, his leadership eventually became a model of what not to do.
The verse above shows the part of Saul’s leadership that every leader should look at and learn what not to do. Saul became a lording leader, and this leadership weakness drove a wedge between him and his followers. Five things are revealed in Saul’s life that shows what lording leadership does and how it damages the follower/leader relationship.
First, lording leadership is a sign that the leader is losing control. It is evident in the verse above that the followers of Saul were going into a shell because of his lording and demanding. Whenever a leader slips into lording leadership, he does so because he is losing control. The only way a lording leader can get the follower to follow is by lording over them. Leadership that is in control of itself won’t have to lord over the follower to get them to follow.
Second, lording leadership threatens. Saul threatened death to get these people to respond, but he found out it didn’t work. If you must threaten followers to get them to follow, you are not leading but lording. Threatening leadership is no way to lead the follower to grow. Leadership will lose the trust and admiration of their followers when they resort to threats to get them to follow. You may get your followers to follow you through threats, but you will never have the heart of the follower by leading this way.
Third, lording leadership creates a fearful follower. When Saul tried to get the people to respond, the followers stayed silent in fear of what would happen. No follower should live in fear of a leader losing control. A great leader/follower relationship will be one of trust and dialogue. When followers are fearful to respond out of fear of the leader’s response, the leader must examine what caused the follower to be fearful of doing their job. The fearful follower of a lording leader is a direct result of the followers fear of the leadership’s response. Let me suggest that you stop making everything about your whims and wants, and lead by example and love instead of leading by threats.
Fourth, lording leadership creates an unresponsive follower. It was sad that the people wouldn’t respond to Saul, but it was a direct response to his lording and threatening. Lording leadership quickly discovers that their followers won’t follow because they have gone into a self-preservation mode. If you find yourself having a hard time motivating your followers to follow, you might check and see what you could have done to cause them to become unresponsive.
Fifth, lording leadership creates a division between the leader and follower. You never want to get to the point that you can no longer have dialogue with your follower because they lost trust in you. Good leadership will be close to their followers because of the trust they have built through leading and not lording.