How to lead people that don’t want your Leadership

How do you lead people that don’t want to follow your leadership?

Usually people who don’t want your leadership talk about you behind your back. They openly disagree with your decisions. They start stories. They are super critical of you, sometimes your family.  They try to sway people to their side of issues. Often they will not challenge you publicly, but their negative response will affect your ministry and your effectiveness as a leader.

7 ways to approach them:

#1)  Talk with them.   We often try to isolate them so we don’t have to deal with them, or we ignore them.  That will not stop their talking.  So, talk to them.  Sometimes we only know they disagree with us because of what someone else told us.  Find out.  Give them a chance to do the right thing and speak directly to you.

#2) If they say they didn’t say anything, apologize, express relief and appreciation ( If they didn’t say it, go back to the person who told you and start over.)

#3)  If they admit they did and want to explain why, listen to them. Don’t get defensive.  They may have a good point.  Then invite them to come directly to you the next time.  Seek reconciliation and give them an open door for future conversations.

#4)  Now, try something.  Try to build a relationship over something on which you both enjoy.  Maybe you both like a certain TV show or a writer or a sports team.  Make it a challenge to find something you can talk about while enjoying the conversation.  Don’t quit!  Try until you find something.  Just the time together will help.

#5)  After you have opened that channel, even though small, now ask for their opinion and suggestions when you enter the area of disagreement.  Listen to them!  Ask questions.  Make sure you understand where they are coming from and what they are saying.  Many times that alone will solve the problem. They want to be heard. See if you can make them a supporter.

#6)  Hopefully, that will end the matter. If they continue to speak badly about you behind your back, or undermine your authority, go directly to them and ask them why.  This time, follow Christ’s directive and take someone with you. (Matthew 18:16)

#7)  If they don’t have a good answer, help them leave!  If you can’t make them leave, move them out of any area of responsibility or influence.

“A friend means well, even when he hurts you. But when an enemy puts his hand round your shoulder – Watch out!”  Proverbs 27:6

Leadership is never easy.  Learn to be direct and to not avoid the tough conversation!


Dr. Ron Cline helps build the body of Christ around the world. His background as a pastor, educator, counselor, missionary and author gives him credibility and rapport with the many groups and individuals he and his wife, Barbara, minister to in various countries each year. After 7 years of pastoral ministry in Southern California, and ten years as the Dean at Azusa Pacific University, the Clines’ international service began in 1976 as a short-term opportunity when he agreed to pastor the English Fellowship Church in Quito, Ecuador for two years. Those two years stretched into six years. Following that he served as the president of HCJB World Radio, also in Ecuador, for 20 years. HCJB Global, now Reach Beyond, has media, health care, community and/or leadership development ministries in Latin America, Europe, Russia, North Africa/Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia Pacific. Ron and Barb currently serve as Global Ambassadors with Reach Beyond and live in Southern California after living 30 years abroad. They travel from Southern California throughout the world. For the last ten years they have been encouraging, coaching and working with leaders in Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, Mongolia, India, Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Solomon Islands, Western Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji, America Samoa, Australia, New Zealand, Central Asia, USA, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Ecuador, Russia, Malawi, Ivory Coast and South Africa.

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