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 rise or falls 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. 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 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?
Remember, 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 than attempt to make peace once it has been shattered. Reconciliation and the ability to discern common ground is a crucial 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. As Margaret Thatcher observed: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”
5. Do subordinates feel at ease in my presence?
A leader should give an impression of genuine understanding and friendliness that puts others at ease; not because it’s an effective technique but because it’s genuine concern.
6. Do I 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 I ever broken myself of a bad habit?
To lead others, you must first master yourself. Do discipline and self-restraint describe you?
8. Do I 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 I use disappointments creatively?
Disappointments will come. How you handle them makes all the difference.
10. Can I 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 I think creatively?
Do you routinely think “outside the box?” Leaders must utilize the full creativity of others in seeking solutions and opportunities.
12. Do I find it easy to keep and make friends?
Your circle of friends is a barometer of the quality and extent of your leadership.
13. Am I 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 I 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. Am I in the grip of the Master Leader?
This is where ultimate 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).
Given enough time, your organization or ministry will reflect your leadership and values. The long term results of your answers may be evident for years to come.
Stay the Course,
Dr. Greg Morris