When it comes to leadership, it’s not what you do but who you are that’s most important. Character is the bedrock of leadership.
As I’ve reflected on leadership over the past week or so, I’ve been reminded that charisma can attract followers. But in the end, it’s your character that will determine if they keep following. Your credibility as a leader can be lost in an instant if your character doesn’t come up to scratch.
Here are four ways that character is the most important aspect in leadership:
Character gives long-term influence
Charisma never lasts. Eventually, it fades. Even when it is genuine. I think of someone like Billy Graham. A charismatic preacher in his younger days, but as he aged, what shone through was his character. And that’s what has left his lasting influence. Character is long-lasting. It burns slowly. A good character brings warmth and life into your relationships and burns brighter with age. I have often been impressed by charismatic leaders. But the ones I remember are the ones with godly characters that shone through over the years. They are the ones who leave a lasting influence on me.
Character creates trust
Trust is so important for a leader’s relationships. I have seen leaders fail because they have broken people’s trust. Maintaining and growing godly character is essential in maintaining and deepening trust. Trust can only grow if a leader acts with absolute integrity.
Character is an example to follow
Having a godly character, growing in holiness, sets the standard for those who follow you. Paul was able to write to the church at Philippi:
Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.Philippians 4:9 (New Living Translation)
Paul knew he was doing his best to grow a godly character and to reflect his Saviour, Jesus Christ. He was therefore able to encourage people to follow his example. I’m not sure I have the courage to do the same! But if you live a Christlike life, then your followers will live to that standard. Compromise on your standards, cut corners or take shortcuts, and your followers will follow your example.
Character grows perseverance
All leaders are facing tough times at the moment. The Coronavirus global pandemic continues. Nations are in and out of lockdown. Leaders are tired and weary, expected to make life-changing decisions. What sustains you through these tough times? Your character. When you are down and out and ready to give up, it’s the self-discipline required to grow your character that will keep you going.
Without character, leadership becomes harder and harder. Focusing on your character will sustain your leadership through the years and whatever life throws at you.
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