Integrity: A Leader’s Most Important Quality

Honesty and Integrity really are the best policies

Honesty and Integrity really are the best policies

Photo by tricky ™

In a recent survey I read, businessmen were asked what they thought was the most important quality of a leader. The overwhelming response was integrity and honesty. We hear about so many business leaders and even Christian leaders who have shown by their poor choices that they have lost their integrity. It would seem that the idea of integrity and honesty had been lost, but as it turns out, it is extremely valued maybe even more so as it seems to be more rare these days.

When a leader has integrity, it means that they set a good example in all aspects of their life. Whether they are at work, home, on vacation, or even alone, they live and act honestly and responsibly. They set an example for others to follow without even trying to, and people will follow.

The good news about integrity, or maybe the bad news for some, is that it is something you can work at and become better at exemplifying and thus, also lose if you stop trying.  It has been said that it is something that takes a life time to build and can be lost in an instant.

You gain integrity through a lifelong process of being honest in every aspect of your life. Yet to do this on our own would be impossible, it takes God’s transforming power to help mold you into a more Christ-like person.

God wants you to have integrity and to live an honest life in everything you do.

This reminds me of a story my dad told me about a coworker of his who was extremely honest. This coworker worked for the US Government and had a desk and office with office supplies like pens and paper available for his use. This man was so honest that he actually had a separate pen for taking personal, non-government notes. So whenever he wanted to write something down that was not related to his work, he would use his own pen.

Now this might be a little extreme, but this does show this man’s passion and integrity. He wanted to make sure that he did nothing even remotely questionable, such as using government ink for personal purposes.

So are you honest in every aspect of your life? Are you willing to let God help you become a man or woman of integrity and honesty? Are there areas in your life right now where you have been lacking integrity.  If there is something nagging against your conscience, do not sweep the thought away but take some time to think about it, talk to a friend who will be upfront with you or bring the issue to God.

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Right Priorities, Make Sure Yours are Aligned with God’s

A Change in your Leadership Priorities is sometimes needed

A Change in your Leadership Priorities is sometimes needed

Photo by hockadilly

Priorities are essential for a leader because he or she must be able to focus on a few key areas that are most important to accomplishing the vision or goal of the organization. When a leader has priorities, they are able to determine what tasks they should be doing, and what tasks they should pass on to others. Priorities also help those serving under the leader to see what the goals for the organization are and how they are getting accomplished.

If you have not set any priorities, you may become distracted and lose focus on your vision. Organizations that lose track of their vision become misguided and unproductive. To avoid this, take the time to set a few priorities.  Priorities will help guide you and help to ensure you are working on the things that important and not just the things that are urgent or bouncing from one idea to the next without ever really accomplishing anything of last value.

When you have your God given vision you can set a few priorities that will help you reach that vision.  Your vision will help guide the decision that you make.  Take your priorities and just focus on two or at the most three.  If you have more than three priorities you do not have priorities because everything will start to compete for focus.  For each of your top priorities list out the tasks that you can do that will help those priorities come to life.

Now that you have a few priorities in your life, it is time to see if they match up with God’s priorities. Yes, God wants your priorities to be aligned with His. If they are not, you will probably struggle and have a tough time succeeding because your desires will be tugging against your conscience and the voice of the Holy Spirit in your life.  .

The good news is that God wants your priorities to be the same as His. And he has outlined His priorities in the Bible. Now that you have your priorities, pray about them and see what God has to say about them. It might be that they are what he wants you to do, or it might be that they are not. Or possible, he might want you to wait for a little while.

If you feel like you are having a difficult time discerning what priorities God wants you to focus on, do not hesitate to seek the council of a pastor, friend, or mentor. Ask their advice, and ask them to pray with you.

Your priorities have a large impact on the direction of your life, so if they are not aligned with God, then you will not be aligned with God either.

So when you are making priorities in your life, remember this important key: make God’s priorities, a priority in your life.

Effective Leaders Must First Learn to Follow Well

There are times to lead, but there are also times to Follow. Know when you need to follow someone else.

There are times to lead, but there are also times to Follow. Know when you need to follow someone else.

photo by mctheriot

To become a great leader you must first learn to follow well.  Even if the person that God has placed in leadership above you is a poor leader, you must honor them.  In every situation you go through it can be used to soften your heart and draw you closer to God or it can be used to harden your heart.  Each situation is a new test and many times it’s harder than the one before.

When you are led by someone else, and take the time to learn from them, you become a much wiser person and leader. All too many leaders today think that they have arrived and do not need to continue learning, but as I talked about in my video series in January, one of the greatest leadership assassins is plateauing.  (You can check out that series here:

http://leadernexus.com/2009/01/


To avoid this, make it a point to always learn, to always take advice, and to always be open to suggestions. As you grow in your leadership people are less likely to offer negative feedback to your unsolicated.  You need to be asking for it if you want to grow.  one of the things that set Ganges Khan apart as a leader was that he was one of the first to demand positive and negative updates from those under his command.  Though it seems to go without question that you can be a better leader with honest feedback in a field of battle we often do not ask for it in our organizations.

Also be sure to make observations of others as they lead.  What works well?  What encourages people to do their best?  What causes people to see the image of God within them?

We have all been in situations where we have had to serve under bad leaders.  While those times are difficult to be sure, God often uses those times to strengthen our character.  Think of David with Saul.  Hopefully your boss or leader that you have to follow hasn’t tried to murder you or sent an army after you to take your life.  Through that situation David grew in character as he learned more deeply to trust the Lord with his life.


David wasn’t a perfect leader to be sure.  In fact, he did not even finish strong.  Most leaders do not.  How can you follow today to help you lead well and finish strong tomorrow.

10 Leadership Principles from Bill Hybels

Little Ducks following their Leader

Little Ducks following their Leader

Photo by pedrosimoes7

10 Top Leadership Principles

Bill Hybels, in his book, Axiom, has collected a treasure of leadership principles he calls leadership proverbs. Here are the top ten leadership principles that can help you become a better leader.  As with all proverbs some of them may apply to your situation today and some tomorrow but it will help you to be familiar with them when you are in a leadership situation where you can call on them.

1. “The three C’s’ – Character, competency, and chemistry. When you, as a leader, are looking for team members to join your organization, you should follow the three C’s rule. First, look for and find people who have character. This is sometimes difficult to judge from one interview, so take some time to really get to know prospective team member’s character and values. Once you find people with great character, look at their competency. Can they do the tasks required? Be sure that you hire or recruit someone who can accomplish the tasks they need to do. Finally, ensure team dynamics by selecting someone who matches with the chemistry of your group. This is the most overlooked key to a good team and it is such a strong factor in good teamwork. If your new team member simply does not fit with the chemistry of your group, then you must look for someone else.

2. “First tested” – when you find someone new for a high leadership or staff position it is very important to test them in their new role. They might be a great person with all the knowledge but if you don’t test them you might be setting them up for failure with their new job. This ‘test’ is supposed to give both you and them an idea of whether or not they can complete the job successfully. If they don’t do very well, that might simply mean that they need a little training and guidance before you have them start working.

3. “DNA Carrier” – great leaders create and then pass on enthusiasm for their ideas and vision. A key role of a leader is to be the example for others to follow. So if you want people to share your values and enthusiasm, you must pass on your DNA, or core ideals. When a leader has a central focus and specific values, and then they share these with their team members and followers, it creates an entire organization that is dedicated to one objective and can achieve it that much faster.

4. “How are you doing…really?” – In our current American society it is easy to ask how someone is doing, and get the generic response of, “Fine, how are you?” You might spend an entire day with someone, asking that they be focused and turn out results, all the while not knowing they are going through some significant tragedy or event. How hard is it to build relationships with your team members by asking, ‘How are you doing, really?’ The results of developing a relationship can be wide ranging and extremely beneficial. It’s an amazing fact that when you start caring about people, they will start caring about you, what you want from them, and what they should be getting done for you.

5. “Know who’s Driving” – in any situation, any circumstance, or any event, there should always be one, and usually only one, person in charge. Hybels explains that when he starts a meeting, he always asks, “Who’s driving?” in order to assign one person the task of leading the meeting. That way, this person will keep the conversation on track, focus the group, and eliminate wasted time. This principle of ‘who’s driving’ can be applied generally so that there is always someone who is responsible for organizing and accomplishing the tasks or events at hand. Often, as a leader, you will be ‘driving’ and it might be good to clarify this occasionally. Other times, someone else will be put in charge and at that time they need to assert their leadership and position over everyone else, in order to carry out the mission.

6. “Deliver the bad news first” – many leaders will go into meetings and spend the whole time talking about the good points, and then at the very end they will blast their team members with some bad news. What happens when everyone leaves? They leave thinking about the bad news, feeling unsatisfied or guilty. Instead, always make it a point to give the bad news first. Give adequate time, address it clearly, and then move on. Then, when you share the best news last, people will leave feeling motivated and excited.

7. “Just say it” – often, people think that they must say things nicely, that they shouldn’t put things bluntly, or they will be judged for being rude or offensive. Instead they waste time by beating around the bush trying to avoid being impolite. Thus, you as a leader must allow people, and even force people, to speak their mind clearly so that everyone understands what they are trying to say. You also need to ensure that your team won’t judge each other, and that they can freely share their mind.

8. “Leaders call fouls” – with the last principle in mind, at times things do get out of hand. Someone says something that is a little offensive and someone else takes offense. As a leader, you must be able to step in and call ‘foul’ when things start to get out of hand. Recognize when a situation is becoming unproductive or even destructive and then stop it, and get things back on track.

9. “Give me an A, B, or C” – consider this situation; you are in charge of someone who has consistently been doing subpar work. After a month or so, you finally decide to call them into your office and fire them. Upon hearing your thoughts on their performance, the individual exclaims something like, “I had no idea what your expectations were, if you had told me how I was doing, I could have worked a little harder. I thought I was doing good work.” To avoid situations such as this it is important to give some sort of evaluation to let people know how they are doing. Maybe something as simple as giving them a letter grade. Whatever you do, be sure to take time to explain your thoughts, and share ways that they could improve if needed. Don’t simply give them a poor grade without and explanation.

10. “We got to do this together” – when you and your team face a tough task that eventually is accomplished, be sure that, in the same way that you shared the work to get the job done, you share the joy and praise for after the task is accomplished. This is one of the biggest things that could break down a team; only one person getting the glory from finishing tasks.

Now what can you do with these? Take them, use them, and start doing an even better job at leading. Maybe you don’t want to try using every one of these principles, maybe start with the top three that seem most important to you, and then once you are good at following them, select another three. However you want to do it, the key is to start taking steps towards leading more effectively and successfully.

Lead By Example

Blaze a new trail and lead by example

Blaze a new trail and lead by example

photo by Ozyman

Lead by example; you have probably heard that before. Maybe your parents or some other person in your life chided you at some point saying, ‘you must lead by example first’. Now, you might consider it good advice, but nothing really important. However, in reality, it is a very important factor for instilling key values in those under you, plus it is essential for a leader to set a good example.

Every organization usually has several key values it sees as significant for the employees to adhere to and follow. But how can you actually get people to live by these key values? You might impose rules, or incentives, or any other of a number of options and some may have slight success, but there is one option that is double-edged and rather easy to implement.

To set the key values of your organization and get people to follow them, you must first follow those values and be the example for everyone else to follow.

There are two key benefits that come from leading by example.

The first benefit is that the example you set, the key values you follow, will then be followed by those under you. If you want your organization to have certain key ideals, start living them yourself and soon people will notice, and start following those ideals as well.

The second benefit is that you will be a much better leader because you lead by example. People, even those outside your company or organization, will see how you are genuine and real, and will want to follow you.

So have you been setting a good example? Are you leading others by first doing whatever it is that you ware trying to make them do? In what areas can you do a better job of following your own rules and requirements? If you haven’t been setting a very good example so far, that’s OK, you can start today and begin leading by example.

Leaders Must Make Bold Moves to Succeed

Sometimes we most make a bold move and take a leap of faith

Sometimes we most make a bold move and take a leap of faith

Photo by aftab.


When was the last time you took a risk? When was the last time you made a bold move and jumped out into the unknown? Many people today spend their lives avoiding the unknown, avoiding risks. But when you take a big risk, you often reap a big reward. Many great inventions came about because of people who stepped out into the unknown. Many businesses have suddenly boomed because of a leader who took a risk.

At times, God will call you to take a leap of faith. He called Abraham to leave his home, his country, the land of his ancestors, and travel to a new land, a land that God would provide. And what did Abraham do? Did he say, “No God, it’s too risky”? No, he simply followed what God said, and went into the unknown.

It is easy to become safety minded, to avoid risky situations or opportunities because its ‘smart’ to not take chances. This is somewhat true, but there are times when each of us must jump out and see what’s in the unknown, see what God has for us.

What kinds of opportunities have you passed up because they seemed too risky? Think of the great benefits that could have transpired as a result of some of those situations. What opportunities do you have in the future that you could take advantage of, although they may be risky?

When you, as a leader, start taking risks and making bold moves, other people in your organization will notice and then follow your example. Imagine if an entire organization were making bold moves, their accomplishments would be incredible.

It is vastly important that you be willing to take a bold step at times in your life. If you hold back, you will miss many wonderful things. Think about this; You can’t cross a big mountain without taking big steps.

What can you do to take advantage of an opportunity that before seemed a little too risky? Trust God, and make a bold move.

A Leader Must Have Vision

Leaders need to have vision to avoid being in a fog

Leaders need to have vision to avoid being in a fog

Photo by Philipp Klinger (No sun anymore on Cape Cod)

A leader’s primary objective is often simply to lead and direct people. But it is vital to recognize other aspects a leader must also focus on. One such important area is having a vision. Having a vision means planning ahead, it means having a goal or idea for the future. It means that there is an overriding objective that the leader is trying to attain.

Every leader, no matter what occupation they have or role they play should be working towards their objective. Having a vision gives reason for their leadership.

A vision can look like a variety of things. It can be a soccer coach’s goal of reaching the final with his team, or the CEO’s goal of making 100 million dollars.

What long term goals do you have that you should be focusing on? What is your vision for the people you lead?

Leaders need to be constantly setting, and evaluating their vision and goals for the future. They should be planning their long term vision, along with several mid-term type objectives, and a bunch of short-term goals.

Setting a range of goals will help you, and the people you lead, focus and stay on track with what you are trying to do. Be sure that any short-term goals match up with your vision.

Once you have a plan and vision, it is important to communicate it to those who are following you. Be enthusiastic and get them onboard with you. Don’t keep them in the dark about what your plans are and what you want to do, let others know and they will probably be even more willing to follow.

The Importance of Short Term Goals

Using short term goals you can reach even the most lofty goal

Using short term goals you can reach even the most lofty goal

Photo by Kevin Steele

You may be great at putting together a lofty vision that encompasses your long term goals, but what are you doing to reach them? Do you have steps and short term goals to help you reach your final objective?

Long term goals are great, but as long as you don’t have a step by step plan for getting there, you probably won’t get there. Setting several short term goals that lead you to accomplishing your final objective is the best way to stay focused and on track.

In a great book I was reading called Axiom by Bill Hybels the author said that he uses a six by six rule for planning and accomplishing short term goals. He puts together a list of short term tasks and goals that he needs to do and then narrows it down to just six key tasks to do that will also work towards his long term vision. He then gives himself just 6 weeks to do each of the six short term goals. Once the six weeks are up, it’s time to put together a new list of short term goals.

This method of organizing and then giving yourself a specific amount of time to accomplish your short term goals is a fantastic way to boost your effectiveness. You will also feel much better about your long term vision because you are taking manageable steps towards reaching that vision.

Is it time for you to stop being frustrated with long term goals, and focus on six specific short term goals for six weeks? Get something done now, and write down what your short term goals are. If need be, you don’t have to make it six goals in six weeks, you can tailor it to fit what you are doing. The important thing is to start doing something now to ensure you reach your long term vision in the future.

The U.S. Army’s 11 Leadership Principles

The Statue of Liberty - Standing as a Leader

The Statue of Liberty - Standing as a Leader

photo by Torley

Leadership in the military is vital for completing the mission. The military has become known for its development of great leaders. Many presidents were also military men, and a large quantity of other influential people began by serving in the US Military. The US Army put together 11 principles for its leaders to follow. These are valuable principles that every leader, both military and civilian, can learn from. Here are the 11 US Army Leadership Principles and their application to civilian leadership.

1. Be tactically and technically proficient – In whatever business or profession you are in, aim to be the best, or at least have a good understanding of it. If that means doing a little studying, so be it, as long as you set an example of proficiency.

2. Know yourself and seek self-improvement – know your capabilities, but don’t stop there, try to improve on your skills and strengths. Learning is a lifelong task that you should continue no matter what you are doing.

3. Know your soldiers and look out for their welfare – this applies to anyone under you. Take time to get to know them and look out for their health and wellbeing. They will notice you genuinely care about them and probably perform better.

4. Keep your soldiers informed – tell those you follow you what your plans are, accept their insight and suggestions, make them apart of the planning. When someone has a role in planning, they take greater responsibility in its execution. Don’t keep people in the dark about things.

5. Set the example – in everything you do you must do it well and set a good example. You never know what kind of an effect you might have on those under you and one small poor decision might mean the loss of their respect and desire to follow you.

6. Ensure the task is understood, supervised and accomplished – make sure you give clear instructions, ask for feedback on what your followers think you said. Have patience if they don’t quite get what you are trying to communicate. And, of course, supervise to be sure a task is completed, but do it in such a way so that you aren’t hovering above people ready to jump on them when they make a mistake.

7. Train your soldiers as a team – create community and teamwork. Help everyone work together. Take time to do team building exercises. When a group of people work as a team, they work much more quickly, and effectively.

8. Make sound and timely decisions – this one is up to you. You need to make decisions and stick with them. Don’t shy away from making decisions, but look at the options and then make the best choice.

9. Develop a sense of responsibility in your subordinates – part of this is simply sharing responsibility with those under you. Delegate certain jobs and small tasks. Let others oversee certain activities. In this way, you will be training up new leaders.

10. Employ your unit in accordance with its capabilities – don’t overstretch or overuse those who are following you. Everyone has limitations, find what the limitations of your followers are, and then try to avoid exceeding them.

11. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions – ultimately you are responsible. If something good happens, you are responsible, and if something bad happens, you are also responsible. Taking responsibility for things is a key trait of a leader, and fatal flaw if neglected. Be sure to always take responsibility for not only your actions, but also those of anyone under you.

These are powerful principles that could radically change the way you lead. Take some time to evaluate your own leadership and compare to see where you are doing well, and where you are lacking. The object of all of this is to be the best leader you can be. Now go and be a leader.