3 Times a Leader Must Kill Off a Good Idea

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Leaders must be able to start things. Leaders must be able to complete things. And, more often than you’d think, sometimes leaders have to put an end to things.

Sometimes they just have to kill off a good idea.

But how can you tell if it’s time to kill off that idea?

Here are 3 indicators it might be time…

1. When the initiative has lost its productivity

That probably seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many projects and initiatives continue to limp along long after they ceased producing any meaningful results. Whether it’s out of nostalgia, or loyalty to the members on a team, leaders will sometimes shrink back from declaring a non-producing project as “dead”.

There’s an old proverb that says, “If you find yourself riding a dead horse, your best strategy is to dismount.” But very often leaders will instead attempt to revive the dead horse. They’ll try placing a different rider on the dead horse, or they’ll get the team brainstorming ways to speed up the pace of the dead horse.

But leaders need to know when it’s time to dismount.

2. When the initiative has lost its purpose

Sometimes an initiative will continue to produce results, but after a season or two it is simply no longer considered to be at the center of the overall mission of the team.

When I served as executive pastor of a large church in Canada, one of the ministry evaluation questions I would ask is, “If we were starting this church today, would we launch it with this particular ministry?”

Things change. Seasons change. And sometimes those changes mean that a once strategic project is no longer mission central.

And it’s time to let it go.

3. When the initiative has lost its “buzz”

Sometimes you’ll notice that the “buzz” is just no longer there. You’ll discern that there is no energy surrounding the project.

Everything either generates energy or drains energy.

And if you have a project that is an energy drainer, it could be time to put it out of its misery.

It’s never fun to end a project that once was full of momentum.

But pay attention to these clues that the “best before” date has come and gone.

And be prepared to let that initiative ride gracefully off into the sunset.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave & Willow and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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