Why Leaders Fail – Lone Ranger and No Tonto

This week, I’m continuing my series on “Why Leaders Fail.”  If you missed any of the previous posts, you can read them here.  This week, we’re looking at the error of leading without building a team.  What can easily happen is individuals can be placed into leadership roles because they can ‘do’, but not because they can ‘lead.’  It’s a blessing to have someone on your team that can get things done…they’re a doer…they see a task and they accomplish it well.  That is an amazing gift.  The problem that can occur, is that gift of ‘doing’ can often become translated as a gift of ‘leadership.’  And when this happens, we can end up with leaders that are Lone Rangers.  And being a Lone Ranger isn’t something you have to do, it’s really something a leader chooses to do.

There can be a number of reasons Lone Rangers don’t have a team, but here are just a few:

  • No one can do it just like they would do it.
  • No one works as hard as they do.
  • No one understands the vision or purpose for the team as well as they do.
  • It’s easier just do it themselves.

And consequently, they end up as a Lone Ranger with no Tonto.  They are a leader without a team.  Sounds contradictory, but it happens far too often.

Don’t make the error of connecting the ability to get things done with the ability to lead.  While leading yourself is  paramount to leading others, to be an effective leader, you still have to lead others…others being the key word there.  To be a leader, you have to be ready to bring people along with you on your journey of getting things done.  Leaders understand that they can get a lot of things done by themselves right now, but if they are willing to work harder now at getting others to follow, they can get a lot more done in the long run.  The longevity and productivity of your leadership will not be determined by what you accomplish, but by who’s with you when you accomplish it.  

If you battle with this “Lone Ranger” approach, here are a few tips to overcome it:

  • Create a list of tasks you do on a regular basis.  Look at that list and identify what you could delegate to others and who you could delegate to.  This might take some time, but begin to train people on your team to do the very things you’re doing now.
  • Don’t take on more than your team can handle.  For driven leaders, we can often say yes to more than our team can actually handle (we’ll talk more about this next week), and in the end we wear ourselves out by doing what our team couldn’t handle by ourselves.
  • Have someone hold you accountable.  Ask a good friend or a coach to question you every week, and ask who you’re delegating to.
  • Don’t settle for just getting things done.  Redefine success in your mind to equipping others to get things done, not you crossing something off your “To Do List.”

What have you found to be an effective approach to overcoming a “Lone Ranger” approach to leadership?


One thought on “Why Leaders Fail – Lone Ranger and No Tonto

Add yours

  1. Relative to LifeGroups, I’ve found working with a co-leader is a good way to for an experienced leader to help equip a new leader and also an opportunity for both to gain from each other’s styles and techniques


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