As a former elementary school teacher and principal I recall the unforgettable moments when all arms were rested on the desk, with heads down as I exited the room but for a brief moment only to return to catching the “selective few” of young students who was willing to take the risk of capitalizing on the opportunity to create disruptions within the classroom. We’ve all heard the cliché’ “while the cat is away, the mice will play” however as I continue on my life’s journey, reflecting on such moments creates a different measure or level of disturbance within me. Looking back, I can’t help but to acknowledge that what I was seeing among my young students was what I see in so many so-called leaders today. I’m speaking of course in regards to the lack of character!
I’m far from being an expert on historical times however; I found it rather interesting to discover that the origin of the English word “hypocrite”came from the era of the Greek theater in which certain actors or actresses would carry out multiple roles while on stage. In order to do so, they would cover their faces with mask attached to a slim rod that they would hold in one hand in order to conceal their “true identity”. This mask was known as “ipocrite”. Unfortunately today many people continue to carry out this concept in life in which they portray to be someone else to “mask” their true selves. I submit to you that this is the epitome which exemplifies a lack of character.
My late mentor, Dr. Myles Munroe states in his most recent book The Power of Character In Leadership that “Leadership is not a role one plays; it is a life one leads. Genuine leadership can never be separated from the essence of the leader as a person.” I could not agree more with this truth! It is my utmost conviction that anyone who has been extended with the responsibility to lead, MUST be a man or woman of absolute character. To violate this principle will undoubtedly be attached to the guaranteed expression of consequences. Unless one decides at the heart level to be committed to living a life of character, he or she will forever be in a position of a major disadvantage in whatever endeavor they may pursue in life.
Understanding the power of character helps the true leader to remain steadfast in doing what’s right regardless of the path taken by the norm. Character in leadership says that as a leader, you don’t lie, cheat, or steal to get ahead. Character says “I will not gossip about others.” Character in leadership says that I am a person of integrity (integrity comes from the root word meaning integral which means to merge as one) therefore who you are behind closed doors is the exact person/replica of who you express yourself to be in public. In Timothy Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek he so eloquently challenges the status quo by stating “Don’t follow a model that doesn’t work. If the recipe sucks, it doesn’t matter how good a cook you are.” This statement made me think of the necessity of character in leaders today. In other words, just because you lead a team of people doesn’t mean you are qualified to be known as a true leader. If the “internal recipe” of the one leading lacks the character necessary in “seasoning” the team to initiate and inspire growth both in their personal lives and the business, the attached consequence as described earlier would be that of distrust and ultimately destruction of oneself. Therefore my challenge to the world and every self-proclaimed leader is to become a pioneer of character measured not by the people who follow you…rather by the people who follow the people that follows you. In other words, the true leader’s legacy is written by the world that becomes drawn by your character above that of your title, awards, plaques and certificates on the wall.
Proverbs 22:1 reminds us that a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold. As leaders, aligning your priorities to match that of your convictions and beliefs creates a foundation of character that catapults you towards success (reward) rather than to repel you backwards in the direction of disappointment and regret (consequence). Decide NOW to become a influence to the world which will inspire others to become living examples of character!