Leadership Vows for the New Year
by Tom Goodman
January 5, 2012
"Make every effort...."
Have you noticed how often that phrase shows up in Scripture? For these opening weeks of the new year, we'll look at that urgent statement in six Bible verses. You'll discover that these six challenges are especially important for those of us who
Maybe it will help you avoid the lame leadership that was exposed in a book called Jackspeak: The Purser's Rum Guide to Royal Navy Slanguage. The book includes some performance reviews for British Navy and Marine officers. Obviously, the
military leaders being examined need a little work on their leadership skills:
"His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of curiosity."
"This officer is really not so much of a has-been, but more of a definitely won't-be."
"Works well under constant supervision and when cornered like a rat in a trap."
"This young lady has delusions of adequacy."
"She sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them."
"This officer should go far -- and the sooner he starts, the better."
None of us can say we've "arrived" when it comes to being good leaders. Every leader could admit to the need for improvement. For the next few weeks in LeaderLines, I want to take a look at six personal vows that you and I should make in 2012:
- I vow to maintain my integrity.
- I vow to forgive those who hurt me.
- I vow to be a peacemaker.
- I vow to be an encourager.
- I vow to mentor others.
- I vow to never stop growing.
We'll begin today with a fresh commitment to integrity. Simon Peter wrote, "So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him." (2 Peter 3:14, NIV84)
Simon Peter had been talking about the return of Jesus Christ, the coming of the new heaven and the new earth. And he said that since we anticipate this, we should make every effort to be honorable people.
That's especially true in leadership. Someone has said, "Integrity is like oxygen. The higher you go, the less there is of it."
Sadly, that was proven true in a landmark survey for the Wall Street Journal a few years ago. The Gallup polling organization found that executives as a group had more problems with integrity than the general public. Eighty percent of
executives polled admitted to putting the public at risk by driving drunk, compared with thirty-three percent of the general population. Seventy-eight percent had used the company phone for personal long distance calls. Thirty-five
percent had overstated deductions on tax forms. And 75% had pilfered work supplies for personal use, as opposed to forty percent of the general public. (Resource: Keeping Your Ethical Edge Sharp, pg. 25)
The scripture tells us to make every effort to be found spotless and blameless. That's a call to every Christian, but those of us who lead should pay special attention to it, and for two reasons.
First, our position of leadership makes us more visible. When we are raised up in leadership, everything about us goes on display: our jokes, our language, our honesty, our self-discipline, the respect we show to others, even how we treat our family. Sometimes when we take a leadership position, we'd like to think that the only thing that matters is how well we do the job, but we can't think that narrowly. The higher we are raised in leadership, everything about us becomes more visible, and our
desire then should be for spotless, blameless lives.
There's a second reason why leaders need to commit to integrity even more than the rank and file, though. The higher you go in leadership, the more you are exposed to temptations that don't affect the rank and file. Temptations to abuse, to exploit,
to manipulate. We've all heard of leaders charged with sexual harassment, or accepting or offering bribes. We leaders need to know these temptations exist and vow to maintain our integrity.
There's a great scene in the film Rob Roy where Robert Roy MacGregor is talking with his young sons. They've heard him talk of honor and they ask him, "Father, what is honor?" And in that wonderful Scottish brogue, MacGregor says, "Honor is a
gift a man gives himself." (Note: Sadly, while Rob Roy is an inspiring film in many ways, it is not a film for family movie night.)
Make sure you're giving yourself such a gift in 2012. Make every effort to live a life of integrity. Next week, we'll vow to be leaders capable of forgiving and peacemaking.
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