Where Christian Leadership Principles Begin

Recently our country has been overloaded with far too many incidents of leaders in business, sports, and politics who have been exposed or destroyed through “leadership” failures. The headlines, tabloids, and blogs today continue to tell the sad stories of people whose flaws are now pubic domain as well as late-night comedian disdain. This is a particularly daunting challenge for Christian leaders in business. It is far to easy for all of us to base our fundamental leadership principles upon currently popular yet misguided core principles.

So how can Christian business leaders avoid these same failures? Where should Christian leadership principles begin?

Before I answer that question, I need to mention the two primary ways society’s most popular leadership principles fall short (and even Christian business leaders get caught).

Where Society’s Leadership Principles Begin…and Fail

First, today’s society focuses far too much awe and reverence on leadership charisma. Peter Drucker, the world renowned author and management expert, once said that, “Charisma has nothing to do with leadership. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were the most charismatic leaders of the 20th century. It that is leadership, I want no part of it!”

Second, society also places far too much emphasis on leadership skill. Be it brilliance in strategy, finance, marketing, innovation, or any number of important competencies, an over reliance on leadership skills alone is wholly inadequate for higher level leadership success.

“Whoa, Dr. Jim, are you saying a leader’s high skill level is a bad thing?” No, not at all. For example, would you prefer the leader(s) of your company to be:
•a highly skilled professionals of questionable character, or
•a moderately skilled professionals of unquestionable character?

I bet I know (and I just gave away the answer to the title of this article.)

Where Christian Leadership Principles Begin

Christians leadership principles must first and always begin with our character. For it is our character that is the wellspring of everything we do: from how we treat our colleagues and customers, how to talk to employees, when we pay our bills, how we manage and discipline, and everything else. It’s the depth of our character, the combination of our wisdom, integrity, and self-discipline, that can separate us from society’s expectations of leaders and propel us and our teams to a higher level of success and significance.

The incredibly gifted military leader, General Norman Schwarzkopf, may have said it best when he stated, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character, but if you must be without one, be without strategy!”

Regardless of a person’s political power, net worth, position rank, social status, or professional skills, without a solid foundation of character, any leadership house will crumble – including believers in business!

How To Get Started

To help you clarify your core Christian leadership principles, here is a three-step plan I encourage you to begin now (This is a system I use in both professional coaching and business team strategic planning/culture transformation.).

  1. Craft a character-development plan for yourself and your team   List and define those core convictions you and your team refuse to negotiate, the lines-in-the-sand you refuse to cross, in how you treat your colleagues, customers, constituents, community, and competitors.
  2. Develop operational definitions for each conviction, how others will actually “see” that conviction played out.  In other words, how will you and your team walk-the-walk of your core convictions?
  3. Create a feedback system that recognizes rewards behaviors that align with your core convictions.

I firmly believe that your Christian leadership principles should first and foremost be based on your character, not your charisma, competence, or any other quality.

For more insights on how to begin with Christian leadership principles, download my white paper “Taking Leadership to a Higher Level” and tell me your thoughts.