Leadership Implosion

I grew up as a passionate Philadelphia sports fan. In light of my lifelong love of the game of baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies were always my favorite team. Some of my most cherished childhood memories occurred at Veterans Stadium where I watched my beloved Phillies play for over three decades. It was a tragic day for me, and countless others, when on March 21, 2004, Veterans Stadium was “imploded” with innumerable dynamite charges, and reduced to a pile of rubble in less than one minute. As tragic as the implosion of Veterans Stadium was for me with all of my baseball memories, there is another kind of implosion that is far more tragic. It is a form of implosion that I refer to as leadership implosion. Leadership implosion is a lethal enemy that has destroyed the reputations, careers, and dreams of many leaders. In some circles, leadership implosions have been referred to as a “broken world” experience in the life of a leader. No leader is ever immune from leadership implosion. One of the most painful consequences of leadership implosion is the devastating impact a leader’s broken world experience can have upon their families, and those who trusted in them, and their leadership.

Leadership implosions frequently occur as a result of leaders making poor, unethical, and at times, immoral choices. These improper choices often lead to the loss of one’s reputation, public humiliation and disgrace, or the disqualification and dismissal of a leader from their current position of leadership. Sadly, in some cases, a broken world experience can prevent a leader from pursuing a vocation that a leader has spent years preparing for educationally. As leaders, we must be warned that we are all only one poor choice or decision away from destroying our lives, families, and careers that we have spent an entire life building. What should frighten all of us as leaders is that leadership implosions frequently occur in the lives of some of the most gifted, trained, experienced, competent, bright and charismatic leaders in the world! If a broken world experience can occur in leaders of this caliber, it can certainly happen to any of us.

One of my favorite authors is Chuck Swindoll. He has written about a concept that he calls “moral erosion” that I believe is at the root of leadership implosion. He writes with penetrating insight, “Moral erosion and deterioration is never sudden. No garden “suddenly” overgrows with thorns. No church “suddenly” splits. No building “suddenly” overgrows with thorns. No marriage “suddenly” breaks down. No nation “suddenly” becomes a mediocre power. No person “suddenly” becomes base. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, certain things are accepted that were once rejected. Things once considered hurtful are now secretly tolerated. At the outset it appears harmless, perhaps even exciting, but the wedge it brings leaves a gap that grows wider as moral erosion joins hands with spiritual decay.”

All leaders must earn the right to be followed through their integrity. Leading with integrity is about living out our values one moral, ethical, principled, and accountable choice at a time. Our leadership platforms must rest upon the rock solid foundation of integrity. Is moral erosion of any kind occurring in your life at this particular time in your life? If so, be warned! Leadership implosion is coming your way. If so, seek help from others immediately. If so, make the critical adjustments your conscience is informing you to make without delay. Your decision to read this article is not an accident. It may prevent you from experiencing leadership implosion, a broken world experience, and a life of unnecessary regret.