“In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence the supreme quality of a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, on a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man’s associates find him guilty of phoniness, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
“In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”
Harry S. Truman
As we face the monumental challenges of the 21st century, it is obvious that leadership plays a critical role. In any organization – anything that takes place – will ultimately rise or fall on leadership. Any vision that is cast, any decision that is either made or postponed, any strategic plan that is implemented, is ultimately an outcome of leadership. Anyone can take people to where they want to go, but a leader takes them where they need to go. Find success in an organization and you’ll find successful leaders. Find failures and you’ll find leadership failures as well.
But as leaders, how do we know if we’re on target? This requires occasional periods of evaluation to determine if we are on course. Your candid (although perhaps painful) response to the following questions will help you determine if you’re living on the cutting edge and modeling the values and priorities you desire to see demonstrated in others.
1. Am I really interested in people?
Are you concerned with all people, types, races and job descriptions? Do you have any hidden biases or prejudices? People are not to be used, but to be developed. They are not a means to an end, they are the end!
2. Do I secure others’ cooperation and win others respect and confidence?
Keep in mind, you’re a leader not a dictator. Cooperation now pays huge dividends later.
3. Do I qualify as a peacemaker?
It’s much easier to keep the peace rather than attempt to make peace once it has been shattered. Reconciliation and the ability to discern common ground is a critical foundation of leadership.
4. Do I possess the ability to secure discipline without having to resort to a show of power?
Do I have a tendency to power up? Leadership is an internal quality that demonstrates influence without external demonstrations of force.
5. Do your subordinates feel at ease in your presence?
A leader should give an impression of genuine understanding and friendliness that puts others at ease….because it is genuine and authentic.
6. Do you possess tact?
Do you anticipate the effect of your conversations before you make them? Keep in mind there’s a world of difference between a “face that will stop a clock” and a “face that will make time stand still!”
7. Have you ever broken yourself of a bad habit?
To lead others, you must first master yourself. Do discipline and self-restraint describe you?
8. Do you maintain self-control when things go wrong?
The leader who loses self-control in difficult circumstances forfeits respect and influence. You must be calm in the midst of a crisis and resilient in the face of adversity.
9. Can you use disappointments creatively?
Disappointments will come. How you handle them makes all the difference.
10. Can you handle criticism objectively and remain unmoved under it?
Leaders do not allow criticism to paralyze their movement. The humble leader can derive benefit from petty and even malicious criticism.
11. Do you think creatively?
Do you routinely think “outside the box?” Leaders must utilize the full creativity of others in seeking solutions and opportunities.
12. Do you find it easy to keep and make friends?
Your circle of friends is a barometer of the quality and extent of your leadership.
13. Are you dependent on others praise or approval?
Consensus is a poor substitute for leadership. In the face of disapproval can you maintain your direction?
14. Do you possess a resolute will?
A vacillating leader, shifting with the winds of circumstances or public opinion will not last long. A firm and steady course is required.
15. Are you firmly in the grip of the Master Leader?
Ultimately, this is where effective leadership begins and ends – a passionate walk with the Savior. The Apostle Paul’s singleness of mind reflected his obedience to Christ in all that he did (Philippians 3.13-14).
If the church is the hope of the world, then its leaders (under the influence and direction of the Savior) are the hope for the church! Although the financial payoff for a correct answer to one of the leadership questions will not be nearly as great as Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, the long-term effects may last throughout eternity.
Stay the Course,
Dr. Greg Morris