It’s not open for debate. It is what it is. People instinctively know that character matters in leadership. Frankly, a person can go so far as to say that where character is lacking, leadership is forfeit. Everyone knows better than to follow someone who isn’t trustworthy.
“Where character is lacking, leadership is forfeit. Everyone knows better than to follow someone who isn’t trustworthy.”
The Character Qualities Of A Leader
There seems to be an instinct within every man and woman to gravitate toward those who can be trusted and to be cautious around those who deserve no confidence.
Both Christian and secular leaders know that the expectation of character starts at the top. Our followers expect us to live and to lead in alignment with our convictions. No one is satisfied with character that is performed only in public, a mere shade of our real selves. They are hungry for authentic leaders. They’ve seen where leadership that is void of character leads to, and they want nothing to do with it.
And can you blame them?
As leaders, once we go on record and announce our convictions to the world, we’ll be expected to live them out in every facet of life–both in public and in private. Character comes first, then the leadership. What we are in private will eventually be manifest in public.
Jesus said it this way,
“No one, when he has lit a lamp, covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lampstand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him” (Luke 8:16-18)
Leaders can be forgiven, but epic failures are rarely ever forgotten. Our tribes’ forgiveness does not restore credibility, and character must be understood as something that can be forfeited far easier than gained.
Followers are enticed by those whose character is seen as both refreshing and valuable. We often watch politicians debate over the meaning of character in their public life but not in private life. As if character can be activated in one sphere but not the other. Most of it is hogwash. Everyone knows that character matters when hiring a Kindergarten teacher. How can it matter any less when we are voting for a President?
Leadership may once have been conferred by title, privilege, and economics. It may once have been something that was characterized by a do-as-I-say-or-else style. But no more. No longer. Those days are gone. People just don’t have the stomach for that brand of leader any more. Today, people want authenticity. Today, leadership is a constant aspiration. It must be earned every day, because people choose whether or not they’re going to follow you with every passing moment.
You see, leading people effectively is something you keep trying to achieve and yet never assume its been fully attained.
If you think that you’ve arrived when it comes to leadership, stop fooling yourself. Because you haven’t.
It really is that simple.
QUESTION: What do you believe are the main character qualities of a leader?
* Image credit: Express Monorail (Creative Commons)