Category: saltJournal

Bob’s daily blog of leadership points.

I Get No Respect…

Rodney Dangerfield’s classic line launched a career in comedy. Tiger Woods’ indiscretion revealed major cracks in character, costing him greatly. Shamsiddi Abdur-Raheem’s decision in anger destroyed the life of an infant. Scandal, deceit, immorality, unethical tactics, murder, along with hundreds of inappropriate activities result in a loss of respect.

What can take a life time to earn can be lost in a moment of poor decision. Respect is vital to leadership. Clearly, people follow leaders they respect.

While many reasons can be stated costing someone respect, the question every leader must consider is, how do I gain respect? Consider a few possibilities.

1)  Show respect. Jim Selman applied a connection between leadership and respect by pointing out “a culture of respect begins with a commitment to seeing everyone as worthy of respect.” Every individual being created in the image of God establishes the basis for this respect. Joe Torre, former head coach of the New York Yankees, would identify respect as a two way street. If respect is desired, respect must be given.

2)  Make wise decisions. Wisdom is gained through one’s own personal experience and knowledge or the personal experience and knowledge of others. Wisdom is the proper application of knowledge. Making wise decisions begins with recognizing consequences. Making the right choices in our personal life helps others see wisdom at work. Fox News published 10 steps to wise decision making worth the read. One of the best ways to gain respect is to make wise decisions.

3)  Follow through. Planning takes follow through. Wise decisions require follow through. Bad decisions are the result of bad follow through? When we tell someone we are going to do something, then do it. Commitment does not change with a better offer, nor when obstacles arise. David spoke of the integrity demonstrated by the one who “swears to his own hurt, and does not change.” Follow through speaks volumes regarding respect.

4)  Admit mistakes. As difficult as it can be to admit, we are not perfect. We are going to make mistakes, and guess what? Everyone else knows we make mistakes. Phil Holberton shows how respect is earned in leadership by admitting mistakes. Admitting mistakes, learning from them, and striving to never make them again moves mountains in gaining respect.

5)  Express gratitude. Two of the most powerful words in the English language are “thank you.” The expression of gratitude begins with God, “from whom all blessings flow.” Expressing gratitude flows from the whole of life, not just a one time act. Improving our ability to express true gratitude begins in a few simple steps. Learning to send a card, make a phone call, or a personal expression of gratitude goes far in gaining respect.

Can I Trust You?

The question of trust is one of far reaching magnitude. Trust is a cornerstone of leadership. The moment followers cannot trust you, they will look for another leader. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf said, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy.”

History records men who failed to find success in leadership because they lost trust. The Watergate scandal is a prime example of the consequences when trust is lost. Richard Nixon’s resignation speech indicated the results in congress.

While it is true, followers must be able to trust their leader, a greater spiritual application exists. We know the necessity of trusting God. We have all heard sermons, listened to prayers, and read passages emphasizing trust.  Scripture teaches us to “trust in the Lord with all our heart” Pro. 3:5-7.

However, there is another angle we must consider. Can God trust us? The question penetrates the heart of every child of God and it should be an arrow into the heart of every leader. Can God trust us to lead His people in the direction of truth? Can He trust us to establish a foundation for people to reach heaven?

Trust is vital, but how do we build trust?

1)  Demonstrate reliability. One of the greatest ways to build trust is to be trustworthy, reliable. The old adage “my word is my bond” is critical for leadership trust. Jesus said, “let your statement be, ‘yes, yes’ or ‘no, no.'” Trust results when others observe the genuine nature of following through on our word.

2)  Be ready and willing to sacrifice. People know we love them by the sacrifices we make in leading them. Years ago I heard a phrase deserving of thought, “love is not so much what you give, its what you give up.” Leadership requires sacrifice. What are you and I willing to give up to lead God’s people? Will we give up our own comforts for the comfort of others? Will we put others above self?

3)  Avoid hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is destructive to leadership at every level. The 80’s seemed to be a time when many of the spiritual leaders in America fell prey to immorality and unethical practices, i.e. Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Trust was lost. The same occurs today when a leader’s life is not consistent with their message.  Kouzes and Posner say “the video needs to match the audio.”

4)  Seek and follow wise counsel. Wisdom is gained through experience and listening to others. Good leaders will counsel others who have walked the path and experienced similar struggles. Solomon wrote, “a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.” However, it does little good to seek wise counsel and not put it in practice. Mistakes can be avoided in leadership through the wise counsel of others.

5) Trust God. The plaguing question is “how do I trust God.” Noah demonstrated trust in God by being obedient in all things. Abraham demonstrated trust in his willingness to sacrifice is son, Isaac. Hezekiah demonstrated trust through prayer, not relying on his own power, but God’s. Perhaps the answer to trusting in God is found in the need for us to obey Him in all areas, be willing to do whatever it takes, and stop trying to do it by our own power and rely upon God.

Preparation

Proper preparation prevents poor performance.  I have heard of the 5 P’s for years.  Preparation is one of the fundamentals worthy of a leaders investment.  More specifically, leaders must invest in “proper preparation.”

Preparation is usually an activity stimulated by a need ahead.  When the need is evident, preparation begins.

Spiritually speaking, the Bible is filled with an emphasis on preparation.  Jesus used a parable to teach the urgency of preparation in Matthew 25:1-13.  Why? We do not know the day nor hour of His return. Are we prepared?

With regards to leadership, proper preparation is vital to be a successful leader. Preparation involves learning from past mistakes, counseling with others, and counting the cost before committing.  The following suggestions will also provide assistance in making proper preparation.

1)  Know the destination…in advance. The old adage “flying by the seat of your pants” requires no preparation, but can be destructive to leadership. Leaders need to know where they want to go.  This involves setting goals and it has application in every area of life, especially in preparing lessons.

2)  Establish priorities. Establishing priorities involves organizing what must be done first. Leaders need to develop the ability to determine the right priorities, personally, professionally, and spiritually.

3)  Find a balance between impulsive and procrastination. Patience is a virtue. Look before you leap. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. These quotes speak of the need to prepare.  Procrastination will destroy leadership, but being impulsive will also. Finding a balance between the two will aid leadership in preparing to know the right time to act.

4)  Be aware of possible barriers. Fear impacts many efforts to leadership.  People often fear change, uncertainty of the future, the unknown, and an endless list of phobias. Leaders need to prepare for obstacles arising out of fear. Recognizing fear allows a good leader an opportunity to prepare a way out of fear to freedom. Jesus did the same.

5) Acknowledge “every” success. Victory / success helps to develop confidence and strength to move forward. Success is not only important to achieve overall, it is also vital to recognize the small victories along the way. At every opportunity, leaders work to build up followers, encourage and instill confidence.

6)  Set regular times for evaluation. The discussion on goals in the Essentials of Leadership, lays a foundation for the necessity of evaluation. Preparation to meet goals includes a time to examine progress and make necessary adjustments.

Influence

The power of influence is underestimated more than any area associated with leadership. The tendency is to believe only a few who live or are placed in the “public eye” have influence. Nothing could be further from the truth. The words of Charles Barkley still echo concerning the power of influence, “I am not a role model.” What causes men in the public eye, such as Tiger Woods and Mark McGwire, to deny, ignore, excuse, or seek to justify inappropriate behavior in spite of their influence?

Consider the influence of leaders throughout history, such as Hitler or Stalin. From a more positive perspective, maybe consideration would be given to the influence of Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr. A range of Biblical examples also stand out, such as Moses, Joshua, Jezebel, Manasseh, Paul or Peter. The influence of Jesus continues to impact millions of people around the world.

Few people realize the power of their influence and even fewer invest in their influence.  John Maxwell has published a number of resources dealing with influence. He claims we individually influence at least four people everyday. This fact alone should move us to learn more about leadership. Every spoken or written word influences others. Every action demonstrated influences others.

Remembering several facts about influence should help us see the need to invest in our leadership influence.

1.  Someone is always watching. Children watch their parents. Employees watch their employers. In general, we all watch our peers. No matter who we are or where we live, someone is always watching. As Christians, this statement takes on even greater application. People watch to make sure our lives are consistent with our message.

2.  People often imitate what is seen in others. Even though every person has influence, the majority of the world is looking for someone to follow. Since this is true, it should make us think. If we want people to do better, they need to see a better way of life. The way you and I live can provide this kind of influence. The very life of Jesus was lived and recorded in light of this purpose.

3.  Teaching right is easier than doing right. Application of truth is the most difficult of tasks. Mark Twain once said, “to be good is noble, but to teach others how to be good is nobler–and less trouble.” Generally speaking, most folks know exactly what everyone else should be doing, but rarely make the same application personally. Influence is based on living an example of the teaching.

4.  We can only change ourselves. In reality, we attempt to change others first. We want others to accept the plan, but not the man. “Do what I say and not what I do” is far too often the unspoken law of hypocritical influence. Imagine how different our world would be if we were all busy working to first improve our own influence.

5.  No better gift can be given than a good example. Paul instructed Timothy to be an example of those who believe in five areas, “speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.” If all parents gave their children an example in these five areas, we could be one generation away from changing the entire “world view.” This is the power of influence!

Potential

The spoken or written word has powerful potential.  The mass media strives to utilize this potential with every post.

Goals and plans have incredible potential when researched, thought out, written down, verbalized and maintained through implementation.

Leadership involves potential.  Recognizing potential relates back to the discussion of character.  When character consists of qualities such as integrity, honesty, decisiveness, and strong work ethic there is a strong foundation for the greatest potential.

Everyone has potential!  However, we must work to develop our abilities to reach our greatest potential.  As leaders, we must also determine a plan by which we can help others reach their greatest potential, utilizing the qualities and skills of each person to achieve the common goal.

Within the realm of spiritual leadership, recognizing potential is a necessity.  Too often potential is hindered by the limitations placed upon self, others, and ultimately God.  How can someone reach their greatest potential?  How can leaders help others reach their greatest potential?

Consider the following:

1)            Do not limit God!!!! Leaders must not allow themselves to think God cannot do it because “I” cannot do it.

2)            Start thinking “BIG” Since God is able to do “far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” Eph. 3:20, then the question becomes, how big can we think?  Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”  For someone who built an empire from the concept of an animated mouse, just what can God accomplish through us in a real way?

3)            Verbalize the possibilities Far more than merely thinking about it, leaders must verbalize the power of potential.

4)            Develop the plan into smaller sections (stages) Doug McNary, former president of Western Union, refers to it as “The Rule Of The Elephant.”  The idea is based upon the question, “how do you eat an elephant?”  The answer is simply, “one bite at a time.”  The analogy emphasizes the need to achieve goals and plans by breaking them down into smaller stages.

5)            Begin NOW! Procrastination must not be a part of the equation. An old African proverb claims “the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”  The application is true in reaching our potential.  The best time to start was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.

Essentials To Leadership #4

Essentials to life and leadership are the basis upon which we survive and succeed. Water is to life what character is to leadership. The sun brings to life what vision brings to leadership. Enzymes provide to life what passion supplies to leadership. To briefly summarize, the three essentials to leadership we have considered involve character, vision and passion.

The fourth essential to life is air. It is almost humorous to state the obvious, but how do we know air is essential to life? Well, just try to hold your breath for more than five minutes. Seems pretty obvious does it not?

I learned some powerful lessons in a scuba diving course several years ago. One of the exercises involved sitting on the bottom of the harbor. Each student held the hand of a buddy behind them while the oxygen tank was turned off. Once the student experienced what it felt like to run out of oxygen, they would squeeze the buddies hand and they would turn the valve on to release the flow of oxygen from the tank.

The word “interesting” would be an understatement to characterize the experience. I remember vividly when my buddy turned the valve off and for a few seconds I began thinking, “hey, I can breathe under water.” I guess I was convinced at some point I would take a deep breath and be able to hold it for a period of time before needing to squeeze my buddies hand. If you have ever participated in this type of exercise, you know exactly what happened next. While I was thinking I was aqua man, as I was about to take my next breath, all of a sudden there was nothing. It felt like someone had their hands around my throat. The ability to even try to take a breath was gone. I am sure my buddy must have thought I was about to die as I tried to crush their hand. All I wanted was to breathe and would do whatever I had to in order to get the life giving source of oxygen into my lungs.

The necessity of air provides a great foundation to understanding the fourth essential to leadership…goals. David Schwartz wrote, “goals are as essential to leadership as air is to life.” After a brief exercise on the ocean floor, I certainly had a better perspective of the analogy.

Narrowing down the significance of goals in leadership is an incredible task. Goals are more than a dream or wish. Goals are objectives stemming from leadership vision. Goals serve to provide purpose and direction. Goals establish priorities, unity, efficient use of time, and aid in charting the future. With this in mind, several factors need to be considered regarding goals.

The most common approach to goals is referred to as SMART goals. Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Action oriented, Realistic, and Time bound. At another time, it will be important to look at each in detail. For now, the ideas must speak for themselves.

When considering goal setting and goal achieving, it is necessary to examine the plans for reaching goals through SWOT analysis. SWOT analysis looks at the goal(s) and examines the development of programs within the plan to reach the goal(s) by the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Realizing there are hundreds of ideas regarding how to set and achieve goals, a few important areas should be considered:

1)  Start at the finish line: In Stephen Covey’s book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” the second habit is to begin with the end in mind. What do you want people to say about you and your character at your funeral? Whatever it is, begin now to work on living it. The same principle is true with goals for any individual or organization.

2)  Understand where you begin: In the movie “Magnum Force,” Harry Callahan (played by Clint Eastwood) tells the mayor and his lieutenant,  “a good man’s gotta know his limitations.” What are your strengths and weaknesses? Without knowing personal and team strengths and/or weaknesses, obstacles are bound to occur that could and can be prevented.

3)  Manage your time well: Time management is vital to the success of achieving goals. However, developing time bound goals involves establishing priorities. Leaders must know what must be done first.

4)  WRITE IT DOWN: A study conducted at Dominican University has proven a substantial difference when students wrote down their goals versus students who did not. The results establish a precedence for anyone who leads…write down your goals.

5)  Sustain motivation: It is easy to build up morale and excitement to begin a project, but to sustain it is another issue all together. Determine from the beginning how and where points of evaluation will be needed and what will be done to sustain motivation toward the goal.

Essentials To Leadership #3

As water is the substance of life, so character is the substance of leadership.  The sun provides light making it possible for us to see where we are going.  Therefore, leadership needs vision, vision to see where we are going.  As well, a leader’s vision makes it possible for others to see where they are going.  Water / character and sun / vision are two essentials to life and leadership.

Another essential to life is enzymes.  Enzymes are essential because they are the digestive agent in all natural foods.  They aid in the digestive process, but there are also enzymes involved in working to build and stabilize our immune system.  Pam Omidyar, founder of HopeLab, claims we should all be enzymes.  “Enzymes are the catalysts that make possible biochemical reactions.  Enzymes increase the rate of a reaction, but are not themselves consumed by the reaction…In short, enzymes are nature’s activists.”

As enzymes are essential to life, the nature of enzymes describes another essential to leadership…passion.  In fact leadership has been defined as “people who leave their footprints in their areas of passion,” Jonathan Byrnes.  Passion is the fuel for leadership vision. Passion is the activist behind the achievement of goals.  Passion changes lives.  In reality, how can a leader change the lives of others if their own life has not first been changed?  Byrnes continues to describe eight characteristics needed to make paradigmatic change.

Ask yourself, “what am I passionate about in life and work?”  There should be something exciting about waking up each day.  When was the last time you could not sleep because of something you were excited about?  John Maxwell reminds us, “a leader with great passion and few skills always outperforms a leader with great skills and no passion.”  Passion is the driving motivation within leaders.  Passion gets them up and moves them ahead.

Apathy and indifference destroy passionate leadership.  The Bible reminds us of the dangers and consequences of both.  Jesus addressed the nature of this problem with the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22.  The result of the Laodicean attitude created self-reliance and a blindness to their own true needs.  Because the Laodiceans were so lukewarm, Jesus said, “I will vomit you out of my mouth,” (v. 16).

John Wesley said, “when you set yourself on fire, people will come to watch you burn.”  Give it some thought!  If you and I are going to be the activist as leaders, passion is a must.  How can you and I have the kind of passion to bring success to leadership?

1.  Set yourself on fire. Determine what it is you really like.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to have and enjoy success in leadership without doing what you really like.  What could you not stop doing regardless of the consequences?  Passion is the difference maker in your life and it will make a difference in the lives of others.

2.  Crank up the heat. What can you spend hours and hours working on and never get tired of doing?  The answer will be found in the areas surrounding what you really like to do above anything else.  When you fan this flame the impossibility factor is removed.

3.  Find passionate people. Passion is contagious.  Spend time with passionate people and be infected by their influence.

4.  Share it with others. Light the fire in others.  Share and inspire others with the passion driving your life.

Essentials To Leadership #2

Our lives are generally divided into components essential to the whole of life.  When approaching the subject of leadership, just as there are essential components to life, we find certain components essential to the success of our growth as leaders.  There are four essentials to life; water, sun, enzymes and air.  These essentials align themselves beautifully to the essentials of leadership.

We have already discussed how water is essential to life.  As water supplies the substance of life, so character supplies the very substance of our leadership.  Character is the very core of leadership.   Character is essential to our development as leaders.  However, water / character only provide one essential component.

A second essential to life is the sun.  Without the sun, life would be impossible.  The sun provides benefits to all life, as well as, all of life. One of the most important benefits is light.  Light enables us to see where we are going.  I once toured the Cave of the Winds near Colorado Springs.  The guide took the group to an area in the cave where the lights were suddenly turned off.  I cannot remember ever experiencing anything like that moment.  I could not see the movement of my hand in front of my face…with my eyes open.  It was frightening.  Everyone was afraid to move.  The guide said, “if you remain in this type of darkness for 30 days you will go blind and if you remain in this darkness for 90 days, you will go mad.”  I learned quickly how light enables us to see our direction.

As essential as the sun is for life, so “vision” is to leadership.  The consequences of not having vision can be seen in the words of Solomon, “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Pro. 29:18).

In leadership, vision has been defined as “the art of seeing the invisible.  In this respect, vision is not just seeing, it is not just “sight.” Instead, vision is insight. It is the ability to see something that only you can see, something that others do not see because this something does not have a physical reality.  It is something you see in your mind’s eye, something that exists in your imagination, something that is within yourself” Alain Briot.

The essential nature of vision has been expressed by the President of the University of Notre Dame, Theodore Hesburgh.  He said “the very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.”

Based on the ideas presented by Briot and Hesburgh, we can say, leadership vision is more than the ability to know the direction.  Vision is knowing the direction and the ability to communicate the direction in such a way others can see, and aspire to achieve in a united effort.  Perhaps this explains why Hanz Finzel describes how the “higher one is in leadership, the more their work is about the future.”

Vision sees the future and speaks as if present.

Vision provides purpose and direction.

Vision drives the actions of life.

Vision powers enthusiasm and commitment.

Vision challenges followers to do something great.

Vision is essential to the success of leadership.  Describing the essential nature of vision is not the challenge.  The challenge is “how” can vision be developed?

1.  Developing vision begins with a self-examination.  Know who you are and who you want to be.

2.  Learn from leaders who have vision.  Spend as much time as possible with leaders who have demonstrated vision.

3.  Establish a vision that is concrete.  Abstract ideas can lead to “fuzzy” leadership.

4.  Be committed to give the time and energy to see it through.

5.  To complete the process, share it with others.  Vision can only be fully realized when others can see it and share in it.

Defining Leadership

We face challenges at every level of life today.  Challenges exist within the corporate world, government, home and the church. Challenges define leaders and leadership.  Determining the need for leaders and leadership is not the difficulty, but defining leaders who step up and provide what is needed when difficulties arise.  Perhaps this is the greatest challenge before us in understanding true leadership.

Beginning as early as the 1920’s we find the definition of leadership based on the challenges facing our culture as a whole.  The 20’s were characterized as “the lawless age.”  While it was a conservative time, prosperity led to depression.  Challenges developed quickly on every front.  As the “Great Depression” dawned, government leaders took a greater role and leadership was defined as “the ability to impress the will of the leader on those led and induce obedience, respect, loyalty and cooperation” Steward.  The purpose behind such actions led a depressed society into a more stable economy.

As the United States entered the 40’s, World War II dominated the decade.  The war was instrumental in bringing an end to the depressed economy of this country.  However, events such as the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust created fear in the hearts of all people.   As a result, the definition of leadership was adapted as “the art of influencing…people by persuasion or example to follow a line of action.  It must never be confused with drivership…which is the art of compelling… people by intimidation or force to follow a line of action” Copeland.

The 60’s and 70’s brought revolutionary thinking to the United States.  Advances in civil rights, growth in radical ideas, mystic religions, liberalism and a major introduction to humanism reshaped our understanding of leadership.  The idea of leadership became a process “in which an individual takes initiative to assist a group to move towards the production of goals that are acceptable to maintain the group, and to dispose the needs of the individuals within the group that compelled them to join it” Boles and Davenport.

Throughout the last two decades a great emphasis has been placed upon the need for leaders.  John Maxwell defined leadership simply as “influence, nothing more, nothing less” Maxwell.  Prior to the events of 9-11 and the beginning of the war on terrorism, leadership, and the concept of a leader, were defined as “the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal…the inspiration and director of the action” Susan Ward.

With the passing of years, leaders have come and gone.  Culture in America has been a key factor in defining leadership and the type of leaders represented.  Perhaps it has always been this way regardless of the country or culture.  However, the definition should be found in the very essentials of leadership.  A leader is one who possesses the vision to see the future and speak as though it were present, the character to build trust and the passion to inspire the direction of others.  Leadership is about establishing the goals to provide purpose and direction for the good of all based upon the abilities of the leader.

The Four Essentials of Leadership

Several years ago I learned about four essentials to life: water, sun, enzymes and air.  Each part plays a very significant role in our ability to survive on this earth.  Based on these essentials to life I began to consider parallels to leadership.  I have read several books, articles and website posts dealing with hundreds of ideas surrounding leadership.  Perhaps you are familiar with the laws, principles, qualities and challenges mentioned in one way or another.  Hundreds of great ideas have been presented in an attempt to help develop leaders.

After reading much of the material available, I began to reason, why not narrow it down to just the essentials?  Is it possible to take the bulk of the ideas available and really come up with four areas about leadership to help develop the type of leaders needed today?  With this in mind, I began to consider the four essentials to life and how they might line up with four essentials to leadership.  I wanted to find four essentials worth investing into successful leadership.  It was time to intensify the study and begin to cut away the baggage to really focus on the bottom line.  Corporately, it would be considered making it “lean.”

The result of the research, discussion with other leaders, much prayer and thought, will be the subject of The Leadership Fund for the next few weeks.  Each post will deal with the essentials of life and leadership beginning with “water.”  A little research quickly reveals how vital water is to life. One website narrowed the value of water to one simple statement, “where there is water, there is life,”.  Not only is the earth mostly water, so is our physical body. Consider how 60% of the body, 70% of the brain, 90% of the lungs and 83% of cells is made up of water.  It could easily be said that water is the very substance of life.

Just as water is the substance of life,  “character” is the substance of leadership.  Where there is character, there is leadership. Scripture would indicate character is more than words, as David writes in the Psalms, “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill?  He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart,” (Ps. 15:1-2).  David uses three words to describe the action of character: “walks, works, and speaks.”  Character puts words into action.  To quote Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in The Leadership Challenge, “the video needs to match the audio.”

Since character is indicated by action, the conclusion, as stated in John Maxwell’s 21 Indispensable Qualities of Leadership, “talent is a gift, but character is a choice.”   Character is indicated by the actions created from the choices we make.  With each choice, character is developed.  Everyone is aware of leaders who have great natural ability, talent to influence hundreds, thousands, even millions of people. Consider the talent of a professional athlete like Tiger Woods.  His talent is beyond what many could only dream to possess.  However, recent events in his life have shown flaws in his character.  His immoral indiscretion has damaged his influence and revealed volumes about his character.

The essential foundation to developing leadership involves character.  While I am not one to put stock in fortune cookies, about a year ago I found one very interesting.  It said, “God gives us one face and we make for ourselves another.”  To understand the essential nature of character to leadership, it should be mentioned that true character must be defined as being trustworthy.  How can this type of character be developed?  Consider the need to apply three specific areas.

First, before making any decision consider Suzy Welch’s “10-10-10 principle.” The principle involves asking the following questions: Can I live with this decision/choice 10 minutes from now?  Can I live with this decision/choice 10 months from now?  Can I live with this decision/choice 10 years from now?  Often times, it is easy to answer the first and second questions.  However, few ask the third question and answer honestly without considering the outcome of the present choice.

Second, take inventory of our values.  Solomon wrote, “a good name is to be more desired than great wealth,” (Pro. 22:1).  What is more valuable, character or achievement?  Character or money?  Character or popularity?

Third, strive for consistency. Hypocrisy destroys character.  Our word must be our bond.  Jesus taught the need for us to let our yes mean yes and our no mean no.  Our character on the job, at home, with neighbors, in the community, or around Christians should be the same.  The type of language we use, the attitudes we demonstrate, and our conduct should all measure up to our belief system.

The first essential of leadership is “character.”  My prayer is for all of us to develop the character spiritual leaders need to glorify God and provide for the needs of the 21st century.