Leaders Lead with Character

While the phrase “natural born leader” is often used, there’s really not scientific support for this phenomenon. In reality anyone could become a leader and everyone should grow as a leader.

To become a leader is to become a learner. Leadership is not a natural gifting but a set of abilities, and like any other skill set it is to be learned and improved.

Those who have chosen to take on or accept a leadership role must own their personal responsibility for developing their leadership ability.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Integrity, by Henry Cloud

Integrity—more than simple honesty, it’s the key to success. A person with integrity has the ability to pull everything together, to make it all happen no matter how challenging the circumstances. Drawing on experiences from his work, Dr. Henry Cloud, a clinical psychologist, leadership coach, corporate consultant and nationally syndicated radio host, shows how our character can keep us from achieving all we want to (or could) be.

In Integrity, Dr. Cloud explores the six qualities of character that define integrity, and how people with integrity.

Integrity is not something that you either have or don’t, but instead is an exciting growth path that all of us can engage in and enjoy.

 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Lead with Character

Most people view integrity as an aspect of honesty. Integrity is adherence to code of ethics or set of values. It also involves how well our actions match our beliefs. It suggests a wholeness or coherence in our philosophies and values, in our public and private statements, and in our actions across a variety of situations.

In short, integrity is about character.

Character has components to it, or traits, and areas of functioning where it operates. Those contexts are the real places where our personhood and reality interface and results occur, either positive or negative.

Character = the ability to meet the demands of reality.

What I have tried to do is take aspects of character and put them into functions that tend to be different from each other, and therefore discrete, and at the same time, related to each other, and therefore integrated. If we have that combination, then we can focus on specific aspects of our makeup and, at the same time, be focusing on all of our makeup and getting it working together.

Let’s look at what those aspects of character are:

The ability to connect authentically (which leads to trust)

The ability to be oriented toward the truth (which leads to finding and operating in reality)

The ability to work in a way that gets results and finishes well (which leads to reaching goals, profits, or the mission)

The ability to embrace, engage, and deal with the negative (which leads to ending problems, resolving them, or transforming them)

The ability to be oriented toward growth (which leads to increase)

The ability to be transcendent (which leads to enlargement of the bigger picture of oneself)

Henry Cloud, Integrity

A NEXT STEP

Riders in London’s Underground (subway) are very familiar with the audible and visible warning to “mind the gap.” It’s a phrase issued to rail passengers to take caution while crossing the horizontal spatial gap between the train door and the station platform.

Maybe a more familiar use comes from the immortal wisdom of Rocky Balboa, when asked about what attracted him to his future wife, Adrian: “She’s got gaps, I got gaps. Together, we fill gaps.”

We all have gaps, especially when it comes to our character. Do not take this as a weakness, but instead think of it as chance to improve.

Look at the list of character traits above, and list them on a chart tablet. On a scale of “1” (I have little ability in this area) to “5” (I am very confident in this ability), assign yourself a number for each character trait.

The gap is our need and opportunity for growth.

For each character trait you scored between a 1 and 3, list actions you can take to advance the development of that trait to become a 4 or 5.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 69-2, issued June 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

 

>> Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

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The Influence of a Father: Integrity

My father had his act together.

Over the last few decades, various surveys and case studies have consistently identified honesty or integrity as the most desired characteristic in leaders. It makes sense: if people are going to follow someone, they want assurance that their leader can be trusted. They want to know that he will keep promises and follow through with commitments.

As I continue to spend this week looking back at the life of my father in his various roles of father, businessman, church leader, friend, and community leader, I have been reminded time and again that his actions matched up with his words: if he said it, it was as good as done.

My father was a product of a time and place (the Depression in the South) in which honestly was a common trait. It had to be for people to get along and survive. But I think it went beyond that: he knew and practiced the combination of ethics, morality, and integrity.

  • Ethics refers to a standard of right and wrong
  • Morality is a lived standard of right and wrong
  • Integrity means to be sound, complete, and integrated

A person can have a high or low ethic; they can also be moral or immoral. Those are choices. But if you want to have integrity, you must choose your ethics and live to match them.

My father followed the high and holy ethics of the Scriptures. By living and working by those biblical standards, he made a commitment to a certain morality. His integrity demonstrated that his actions matched his words. There is no substitute for a man of consistent Christ-like character.

Integrity doesn’t demand perfection. Even the most ethical and moral committed person can blow it. Integrity doesn’t guarantee a perfect life, but it does require an integrated life. People with integrity have a moral center that integrates their behavior. When they violate that moral center, they recognize that violation as sin and treat it as an aberration. They confess it, make restitution, seek forgiveness, and reconfirm the standard.

Where do you find yourself on the integrity scale?

Integrity is something that is earned over time. It does not come automatically with the job or the title. It begins early in our lives and careers. People tend to assume initially that someone who has risen to a certain status in life, acquired degrees, or achieved significant goals is deserving of their confidence. But complete trust is granted (or not) only after people have had the chance to get to know more about the person. The integrity foundation is built brick by brick.

The integrity of leadership is what determines whether people will want to give a little more of their time, talent, energy, experience, intelligence, creativity, and support.

High integrity earns intense commitment from others. When people perceive their leaders to have high credibility, they are significantly more likely to:

  • Be proud to tell others they are part of the organization
  • Feel a strong sense of team spirit
  • See their own personal values as consistent with those of the organization
  • Feel attached and committed to the organization
  • Have a sense of ownership for the organization

Wouldn’t you like to be the leader of an organization like that?

Get your act together.

 

reflections following my father’s death two years ago this week, and revisited now as my mother begins a major transition in her lifestyle