The following is a guest post by Mark Deterding, author of the newly released book “Leading Jesus’ Way: Become The Servant Leader God Created You To Be.“
Ever wonder what makes a good leader great? The answer is character.
Character is what flows out of the heart. It is what defines us as a leader. People want to follow people they can look up to and trust. So to become an effective servant leader, we must get intentional about building character.
Personal character is the sum of all the qualities that define us as individuals and as leaders. Warren Bennis cited Harvard research that indicated as much as 85% of a leader’s performance depends on his or her character. My experience in 35 years in business tells me the same thing.
The personal character of leaders defines their depth and stability; it is what leaders are truly made of.
When you look at leaders, you see many things. You can tell easily if they are intelligent, whether they have good technical skills and how much they understand the business and the industry. What you don’t see, because it is below the surface in their heart, is their character. That’s what Dwight Moody meant when he said, “Character is what you are in the dark.”
Servant leaders are defined and recognizable by their character. Servant leaders know that people will follow them only if they are trusted and trust is only developed through virtuous character.
Servant Leadership Character Traits
Key aspects of a servant leader’s heart that will separate them from the pack include:
- A desire to serve others, above and beyond oneself
- A desire for never-ending development of one’s ability
- A desire to achieve one’s very best
- A willingness to always accept responsibility for one’s actions
- A commitment to being humble and vulnerable
- A desire to make a positive impact on society
Issues of the heart don’t change overnight. We must first get intentional about positively developing all the areas of our character to become better servant leaders.
This is not a matter that is looked at only once. It is something we must check up on from time to time. This can be done by asking others (truth tellers) what they think. But don’t just stop with the feedback – work to implement changes so you can grow and have a greater impact as a servant leader.
We can also start improving in this area from where we are today by identifying someone whose character you greatly respect. Write down what that person says or does that you admire. This will help you frame up areas that you want to focus on to enhance your trust and build your personal character.
Make the Commitment
Remember, building character and trust is a process that takes time. Make the commitment to start where you are and pray for guidance and stamina through the journey. In time, you will be blessed for your efforts, so stay the course and allow God to work through you to make an impact in this world.
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. ~ 1 Samuel 16:7