Leadership: Character and Competence

Regardless of the different trends that surround leadership in our marketplace, family, politics and the church. I am with the school of thoughts that the leader’s character plays the foremost fundamental role in his or her credibility.

If a leader’s character is placed in any doubt, he automatically loses a chunk of credibility that would lead in losing the influence he has over his followers.

That is the reason why I believe Singapore’s Senior Minister Lee never hesitates to slap a lawsuit on anyone that would defame his character and credibility as a premier leader. He understands the kind of risk that is at stake which might threaten his influence.

Competence for success

Is character (though important) the only quality required in a leader?

What about competence? Have we overlooked or undermined the importance of this prerequisite in a leader in our over-zealousness pursuit for character?

If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success

Ecclesiates 10:10

Imagine that you are in an office of a surgeon. And you observe his certifications from the courses of his training he had to undergo through medical school. Furthermore, you had read raving testimonials of his past successful surgical operations.

If he were to operate on you or one of your family members, I believe you would give him the full trust as he has provided enough confidence for you to allow him to perform his duties regardless whether he has a good or bad character.

As your life or your family members’ lives are at stake, you would most naturally and definitely seek a surgeon that is most qualified and experienced. If the surgeon has a good character, that would be a bonus. But in no circumstance should I believe we would subject our lives to a untrained surgeon who has a good character.

Likewise, can an uncompetent leader win the full trust of his people to follow him or her even if he or she has a good character?

Character for sustainability

The character of a leader forms the moral block or is the backbone of who the leader is, and can be describe as the capacity  to lead.

The greater the character of a leader, the greater is the leader’s capacity in leading in terms of quantity and quality.

Because leadership is such an intense and demanding role where the leader is constantly subjected to criticism, abuse and rejection, he or she must have a strong inner will and power to confront and deal with these while rallying and trudging forward. And character provides that sustainability.

In the face of such challenges, the leader’s character aids in the focus of his vision and meekness to deal with the strain in relationships around him as he leads.

The leader’s unwavering character provides the stability and confidence that the followers need as a beacon and anchor especially in marching through the difficult moments.

Leadership in 21st century

In this knowledge-based era where much is expected with the progress of mankind, I believe competence is an equally important quality in a leader that is expected and required in the 21st century. But it should be ideally built upon a leader’s character as the foundational quality.

Therefore, the immenient challenge for leaders today is to attain these two invaluable qualities that should be clearly displayed with constant renewal in his or her life.

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

2 Timothy 2:20-21

What we truly need in this day and age are cutting edge leaders that are with the capacity, ability and the drive to raise the bar of morality, service and innovation to add value to our communities and industries by leading and creating opportunities where everyone is able to share and enjoy quality holistic living and sustainable success.