We want good guys in our organizations. When we’re looking to fill vacancies at any level, especially at the top, we’re looking for people with character. I have never seen a job vacancy notice for a leadership position that reads,
“We have an opening for a mean, obnoxious, liar who lives by their own rules. We’re looking for the type who misappropriates company funds and steals all of the company pens and post it note pads. Interested applicants should provide proof of corruption, extortion, tax evasion, adulterous affairs, racism, sexism, and any other isms that most people find offensive. Only those who are know-it-alls, condescending, rude, talk with food in their mouths, and refuse to wash their hands before re-entering the workplace need apply. Provide at least five references from persons who hate to see you coming around and heard you say inappropriate things about your mother or someone else’s mother. Saying anything inappropriate about your mother-in-law does not count. C’mon, who DOESN’T do that? Only serious inquiries, please.”
Good guys do not always finish last. In fact, you can be a good guy and effectively lead at the top of your game…and stay out of jail…and keep your marriage in tact…and satisfy your various stakeholders…and remain in the game for the long haul. To do well in leadership one should be determined to do well in life by living with high standards for their character. To do otherwise is to live and lead blind to what can derail you and your organization.
I recently taught the congregation I serve from the writings of The Apostle Peter, who was one of Jesus’ closest associates. In II Peter 1:5-11, Peter shared how deliberately increasing certain character traits prevents one from being shortsighted and blind. It enhances your judgment and opens your eyes to potential grave errors. Deliberately growing in these seven character traits can increase your wisdom and empower you to see what horrible bosses miss.
1. Moral excellence
This helps generate a leader’s most potent currency, trust. When temptations come, and they do come, consider how your decisions may cost you trust from those who follow you.
Peter was specifically addressing knowledge of God’s will so it would influence responses to life’s daily challenges. Got challenges? Get knowledge!
This actually pertains to sensual passions and desires. Too many promising careers and families have been ruined due to a leader being blinded by an inappropriate sexual relationship. Keep your eyes open!
4. Patient endurance
Patient endurance is not passive. Rather, it gives transformational leaders courage to make tough decisions and persevere as he or she works toward positive change. Good character alone is not enough to be an effective leader. You also need courage to make tough calls in tough times.
This doesn’t mean walking around in a nun’s habit or a monk’s robe…unless you’re a nun or a monk. Peter simply encouraged his reader then and now to imitate qualities of our Creator.
6. Brotherly kindness
What if we treated persons in our workplaces with brotherly kindness? This doesn’t mean you don’t fire them when they deserve to be terminated. But it certainly means you can be firm, hold people accountable, and do all you can to help them grow when they fall short.
It is a love that seeks the best, the safety, and the well-being for others. This love, for example, can move a CEO to do a costly recall in order to save lives. This love costs.
These traits undergird wisdom lacking in leadership today. Let’s live and lead with our eyes wide open to the needs of our people, the good we can do to leave the world better than when we came into it, and the traps that could derail us and ruin our careers or organizations or families. Spend time with a mentor. Invest time in reflection and meditation. Continually work on you and lead with your eyes wide open.