Character matters. For leaders, character is king. It would be different if we spent our lives in isolation. However, we live in the spotlight in full view of our followers. The challenge with the spotlight is it shines on us brightly, revealing both the strengths and flaws in our character. The people around us watch how we respond to stressors, deadlines, and delays. They take note of our day-to-day treatment of others, if we consistently demonstrate kindness, courtesy, and respect even when it’s difficult. While we may try to hide or deny our deficiencies, we won’t fool our followers for very long.
Recent history is fraught with high profile leaders that were admired and then chose a path of dishonesty and corporate fraud. Others fell into moral failure or showed “their true colors” after gaining a following. More than ever, society longs for leaders with authenticity and integrity.
According to a comprehensive research project released by Gallup in 2009, followers identified the top four leadership essentials, all of which stem from integrity.
Leaders do what they say. They have a proven track record of reliability, and a reputation for leading toward a worthy vision.
Leaders care about their followers. They take time to listen and connect with them, investing in relationships before asking followers to invest in their vision.
Leaders are steadfast and strong. They provide a sense of security when times are tough or in the midst of change.
Leaders keep inspiration alive. They maintain a positive attitude, pointing to a better future.
Our ability to thrive as leaders is rooted in excellent character.
We can only provide the essential elements of trust, compassion, stability, and hope through consistent, excellent character. We may succeed temporarily without it, but true influence is established over the long haul. The Bible describes excellent character in many ways. The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 is a great place to start. The description of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is a pattern for our lives. As leaders, we set the example in the way we live, in our love, faith, and purity (1 Timothy 4:12). Using Scripture as our standard, how are we doing?
Transformation of character is rooted in our relationship with Jesus, as we yield to the Holy Spirit.
Thankfully as Christ-followers, we also live under another kind of light–the search light of Jesus. Jesus is the one who searches our hearts and minds. He reveals the areas needing change, so we can say, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 NIV). The Holy Spirit is available to walk with us and empower us to become more like Jesus in our character. We are all works in progress. Although imperfect, we must be authentic in our pursuit to thrive in our personal and professional lives.
Take a few moments to reflect on the four leadership essentials listed above, and ask the Lord for guidance.
Rate yourself honestly. How are you doing with trust, compassion, stability, and hope?
Identify one of these elements that needs improvement.
In what ways is this element affecting you? Your followers?
What would it look like to be strong in this element?
Identify steps you will take to grow in this element.
I look forward to hearing your reflections.