Characteristics and qualities of great leadership should not be debatable. It should be as obvious as day vs. night. Believe it or not, the Bible plays a prominent role in the ideal profile of great business and civic leadership. ♦
We tend to sometimes think of our modern-day political and business leaders as kings and queens, royalty of sorts. We follow their public and private lives with admiration, curiosity, or in some cases, disdain.
In our minds and cultural heritage we have ideals of great political and business leaders (e.g., George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Lee Iacocca, Jack Welch, Steve Jobs). We also hold up notorious examples of bad and even evil leadership (e.g., Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Edi Amin, Pol Pot, Osama Bin Laden).
Is there a clear distinction between characteristics of great and effective business and political leadership? I don’t think so. Characteristics and qualities of great leadership should not be debatable in any environment. It should be as obvious as day vs. night.
And believe it or not, the Bible plays a prominent role in the ideal profile of both great business and civic leadership.
Great Leadership is Universal
In the modern business world, great leadership is aligned with wisdom, integrity, motivation, and vision.
In the Bible, great leadership is aligned with Godly obedience. How quaint, outdated, even totally irrelevant, you may be thinking. We’re not even supposed to mix church/religion with state business and politics, right?
I’m not suggesting that.
I am suggesting however that for public civic/political and private business leaders to be great, they should possess characteristics that great Biblical leaders have possessed over time:
- Godly wisdom and knowledge – Great leaders should have more than a minimal level of knowledge of Biblical history and God’s moral precepts as presented throughout the Bible. Any man or woman who lacks basic understanding or holds no respect for the moral standards found in the Biblical Scriptures is lacking in a fundamental area of human knowledge. They may not adhere to a personal belief in the Christian faith, however personal ignorance or defiance of Biblical precepts is a major flaw.
- Moral Integrity – Leaders should be good, not evil, nor represent or uphold any activity or position on immoral policies that reflect anything less than what is good and right. An innate sense of right or wrong is what separates leadership that is principled vs. leaders that are amoral and/or corruptible. Great leaders need not be squeaky clean or free from a sinful past, but they should now be upright citizens displaying moral character in all areas of their lives. Anything less should not be tolerated.
- Motivational and Inspiring – Great leaders should attract and inspire others to follow and achieve what are good, noble and worthy goals and objectives. The output, production or yield from the nation, state, company or team should reflect the good fruit of an aligned, motivated and inspired collective. A great leader’s following is true, cognitive and uplifting, not manufactured, blinded and negative.
- Visionary – Great leaders are not just functional operators, but real doers with an action plan that moves beyond the status quo. They project a future state vision that advances a cause or enhanced condition. Of course the vision is good and noble and right, not off-base, deceptive and wrong. And who’s to judge? Refer back to Biblical principles and standards for what is good, noble, right and wrong.
Biblical Models of Great Leadership
Here are just 5 examples in the Bible of great leadership:
- Moses – he was nothing without the leading of God. He led a reluctant people in a profoundly difficult and extended journey while instilling principles of management and social order that are the basis of democratic societies today. (see Book of Exodus)
- Nehemiah – through heartfelt conviction and prayerful leading he became a strong governor of a reestablished nation that required visionary and sternly principled leadership. (see Book of Nehemiah)
- Josiah – though a product of dysfunctional parental modeling, his innate sense of right and wrong, even at a young age, led him to restore Godly principles and practices in a woefully wayward nation. He changed a generation through his noble convictions and strong leadership. (see 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34)
- Paul – his inspired vision and communication skills transformed a small and dejected team into an empire-beating, world-changing movement that continues to inspire and lead today. (see Book of Acts and Paul’s letters to the growing Church in the New Testament).
- Jesus – the perfect model of servant leadership that leads with profound wisdom, love, integrity, inspired motivation and a visionary directive that moved a small following to spread a gospel message that changed human history.
These are just some of the leaders who show us how to lead even in the midst of conflict, oppression and great human difficulty. Yes, the Bible is a great reference point for leadership that should be studied and modeled.
You Are Who You Model
We all are susceptible victims of clever marketing and manipulation of political and even corporate messaging. We need not fall prey however to the machinations of corrupt and ignoble players in various spheres of society. Raise your own standards for what you define as great leadership. Be inspired yourself to be a leader of substance, principled and good. Even great.
Are you following greatness or something less?
“It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant…” – Matthew 20:26