No Binging in Leadership

Man watching video static on TV

We live in a binge culture. Binge TV watching. Binge video game playing. Food and alcohol binging. There’s no argument about the fact that none of this is healthy. Binging is destructive and it is contrary to the very essence of healthy and effective leadership.

TV binge watching is a pervasive issue in several segments of American society, and I know that other parts of the world wrestle with the same phenomenon. In 2015, 70% of all Americans binge-watched TV, with more than 80% of millennials doing so.1 Netflix owns a special corner of this craze: it seems that service has single-handedly pushed binge-watching into popular culture as 70% of Netflix subscribers binge-watch.2

It’s likely, though, that the gaming culture got a jumpstart into binging ahead of TV binge-watching. In the gaming culture, it’s a badge of honor to brag about how long your gaming sessions last, and the stats show that 45% of video game players play more than 2 hours per day.

The CDC has a Web page with amazing and sad statistics about alcohol binging. There are several eating disorders, too, with equally devastating effects on people and relationships. (More details here.)

Overall, what do bingers look like? They are:

  • Self-indulgent
  • Hyper-focused on one thing
  • Ignoring relevant responsibilities and information

Lest I be accused of hypocrisy, I publicly confess to having binge-watched a few series on Netflix. I’ve limited those times to a handful of opportunities when other commitments could be put on hold. As for gaming, I’ve never really caught that bug. There have been a few games I’ve played on my computer or smartphone, but I get bored quickly with the experience and soon revert to my eclectic book reading and topical research habits.

I’m also grateful to God that I have never wrestled with an eating disorder or been tempted with alcohol. I’ve seen how both of these have destroyed people’s lives and relationships. Again, I thank my God for protecting me from this and pray He will continue to hold His gentle hand of guidance over me in this area of life!

This isn’t a blog about health and relationships, though. Where am I going with this?

Recently, I was talking with a young man about some of the greatest challenges facing youth today. One of the interesting things he pointed out was the binge culture I’ve described above. He said that youth are tempted by all these things, but what they really need is steadiness, consistency, reliability—bedrock foundations. His point was that the Christian Church can help youth find that steadiness and strong foundation in the context of a loving relationship with God and with people in the Church.

At that moment it occurred to me that leadership has the same challenge that our youth do. Leaders can also be self-indulgent, hyper-focused, and ignore relevant responsibilities and information. When leaders do these things, the results are just as devastating as binge TVwatching, game-playing, alcohol consumption, or an eating disorder.

What are the results of binging leadership?

  • Poor decision making
  • Reduced performance and effectiveness
  • Broken relationships
  • Arrested personal growth and development
  • Loss of leadership

What does a non-binging, healthy leader look like?

There are many, many responsibilities of healthy leaders! Here are a few that are relevant to this present issue of binging.

Healthy leaders:

  • Put others first; they are humble
  • Listen
  • Are interested in diverse people and things
  • Learn
  • Are organized and strategic in all areas of life

I’m going to close with a caution. It’s very likely you’ve read this article and thought, “Nah. That doesn’t describe me. I’m not a binging leader.”

Not so fast. Sit down with that person who knows you best and will also be completely honest with you. Do two things:

  1. Have them read this article before getting together.
  2. Ask them, “Be completely honest with me—I don’t think I’m guilty of any of the behaviors described here, but I want to dig deeper. Tell me, do I exhibit any tendencies toward these destructive behaviors even if I’m not fully engaged in them today?”

Then listen, ask clarifying questions, and ask for help in growing as a leader.

Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.

Credits
Photo available at Pexels under CC0 license. Image modified for size and space.

Notes:
1: Statistic found at https://www.statista.com/statistics/431166/binge-watching-tv-shows-reach-by-age-us/
2: Statistic found at http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/netflix_statistics-facts/
3: Statistic found at http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/video-game-statistics/

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