Monday, February 4, 2013

Leadership = Character

Over at ViralRead they have been tirelessly covering the Menendez scandal. Sen. Bob Menendez is yet another politician involved in a probable career-ending scandal. The story has everything you'd want in a scandal: prostitution, misuse of funds, private jets, and exotic locations. But this isn't a post about politics. This is about leadership.

I read an article recently that said leadership cannot be separated from character. You cannot say that someone is a good leader that has major moral deficiencies. I struggled with this for a while. As most of you know, I'm deployed overseas. At the beginning of this deployment there was a situation where someone in leadership was caught in a moral failure and was punitively removed from leadership. Everyone was upset because even though what he did was wrong, "he was a good leader." I even caught myself saying similar things.

But the truth is, he was not a good leader. Good leaders can only lead if they have credibility, and you cannot have credibility without solid character. In his book Being Leaders, Aubrey Malphurs says, "Research on credibility has shown that, when a leader attempts to influence people, they engage in a conscious and unconscious evaluation of the leader and will follow only if they deem him or her credible." In addition, he says, "To compromise your character is to compromise your leadership and erode the trust of followers."

The point is, character is incredibly important, yet it is often one of the last things on leaders' minds. If you want to be a good leader, you have to develop solid character. If not, you may just be the next scandal waiting to happen.

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