It seems like there is a new revelation or accusation about immoral conduct by a politician, media, or entertainment leader almost every day. Among the many questions raised by all this is, “Does character count any more in choosing a leader?”
For most people, the answer is no. Their emphasis in leadership selection is on other issues – creative talent, engaging personality, business acumen, and political expediency. They want someone who can “do the job,” usually meaning make decisions that benefit them in some way. That is a short-term, selfish perspective.
The better answer is yes. Leadership selection should involve all the qualities listed above – after all, leaders by definition are pacesetters who must be able to do the job. But great leaders are also people who demonstrate strength of character. They are self-restrained people who make decisions for the common good – not for self-gratification or self-promotion. They treat other people with respect – both their followers and detractors. They are not perfect, but neither are they reckless in personal behavior. They have an internal compass set to true north, objective truth impervious to polling.
Why is this important? Because leaders deal with unprecedented situations for which there is no blue print for solutions. When those decisions must be made, leaders (like every other person) revert to their basic convictions, guiding principles, and core values for guidance. That’s why character matters. When the pressure mounts, what is squeezed out counts!
When you have a voice or a vote in leadership selection – make character considerations a central part of your choice.