A few weeks ago, we were headed to a conference for the purpose of giving exposure to our missions work. When we arrived at the airport, we realized we had left all of our presentation materials back at home. I had to go back home to get them, and I ended up flying standby. Otherwise, we would have been without the most important stuff – the very reason for our trip.
Warren Bennis, leadership guru says, “I’ve never seen anyone derailed from top leadership because of a lack of business literacy or conceptual skills: it’s always because of lapses of judgment and questions about character. Always.“
It seems to me that there is a sufficient amount of emphasis on skills development and strategy engagement among leaders. Bennis is right – know-how is not the problem when someone fails. The problem almost always is, leaders lose their bearings. They have a moral lapse. They fail and fall.
I see four key reasons why leaders are prone to omit issues of character and integrity:
· Forgetting what brought success. Honesty and integrity are not very glamorous foundations, but must be maintained in order to prevent moral failure.
· Corruption from outside sources. Unscrupulous characters will be attracted to success. Know who they are and avoid them!
· Arrogance of success. Pride is the greatest enemy of leaders. Stay humble; stay on track.
· Too busy to pay attention to details. Never become so preoccupied with leading that you forget to focus on small, important, moment-by-moment decisions.
Leaders (and followers) don’t forget the most important thing – your character.