One of the assignments for my spiritual formation class this week is to reflect on this quote from Samuel Rima's book, Leading from the Inside Out: "every leadership failure is, at its root, a spiritual issue" (129). I want to admit that I may redirect this assignment in the future. It mostly seems a helpful question only if you agree with the quote, and the more I reflect on it, the more I disagree pretty strongly with it as a Wesleyan.
The Wesleyan tradition makes a sharp distinction between sin and weakness. Sin in particular for a Wesleyan coalesces around choices. I do not believe, for example, that having a tendency to be late to things is a sin. It can be a sin if I choose to be late to spite the person I'm meeting with or if I choose to ignore the effect my actions have on others.
To be sure, there are habits that are sinful that lay just below much conscious intentionality. My tendency to be late can "wrong" others by messing up their schedules. But I don't personally consider it a sin in general for a student to be 5 minutes late for class every day. I consider it a weakness. Weaknesses can easily slide into sins, but I see a pretty significant distinction.
A person who is consistently late to things or tends to be disorganized may very well fail in leadership. Certainly a person who is on time and organized has definite advantages in this respect. But I would not call a leadership failure for these reasons a moral or spiritual issue. In that sense, I disagree with Rima's statement. I knew a leader who was a great guy, very intelligent, and highly informed, but he was often unprepared for meetings and sometimes didn't pull the right triggers at the right time.
He ended up changing jobs. I don't know that I would call him a leadership failure, but I certainly wouldn't say there was any spiritual failure behind his leadership issues.
In the same way, I would just as strongly disagree with Bobby Clinton's sense that you cannot be a successful leader if your spiritual life is not in order. Poppycock. Many ministers are highly successful leaders because they are type A personalities. Their home life and families go to pot, their children rebel because they are busy leading the church effectively. They are spiritual failures on a grand scale--and highly effective leaders.
How many episodes of SVU and Criminal Minds show how the immense success of a particular kind of driven person correlates directly with failed home life. You can play around with words--they're not really successful leaders. That's circular and ridiculous. The question is whether an individual can cast appropriate vision and manage effectively and be a spiritual failure. Yes, you can!