I met one of my favorite leaders while he was in college. I saw in him some qualities that he seemed too young to possess. How did he learn what he seemed to do so naturally?
In his senior year I worked closely with him and saw that he not only was a very natural leader, but he also had the qualities to grow and do great things without destroying himself. So, I hired him on the spot. I had no job in mind, but I knew that he would do well with whatever I found for him after he graduated. He trusted me and said, Yes.
Today, that young man is the president of the college and doing those great things.
Looking back to those days and tracking years of working with young developing leaders I have come to the conclusion that if I can get a leader to focus on two basic truths, he will be successful.
The first truth is all about what defines the leader. It is that inward quality that causes the leader to do what he does, his CHARACTER, which is defined as the essential nature of a person. It is in one’s character that you see integrity, persistence, peace, self-control and compassion. These five will spell success or failure for a leader. In fact, a weakness in any one of these five areas and the leader will destroy himself.
Integrity includes honesty, keeping one’s word and doing the right thing. Persistence is hanging in there during tough times, being longsuffering, patient and faithful. Peace is being at peace with yourself and with others, settling conflicts and differences. Self-control is discipline, kindness and gentleness. Compassion is love, goodness and selflessness.
These inner qualities make a good leader regardless of outward skills. But, there is an outer skill that is also essential.
The second truth leaders need to focus on is that, like it or not, they will INFLUENCE others because of their position and they can do that for good or they can do that for bad. This is the area that will intersect with other people. It is the outward side of their leadership role. Leaders have to understand that they are watched, so their attitude, style and relationships are as important as their decisions, announcements and judgments. They are leaders as well as the example, as well as the model. They may be the one thing that people judge the organization by.
Influence is a powerful tool and leaders have to focus their use of this tool. They have to understand the power of the title or position and accept that responsibility with humility and honesty.
Two things leaders have to focus on. Do them and you will succeed!