There are many facets to leadership but there is only one that anchors the followers or disciples to the leader for a lifetime. Through years of intense study, tremendous life experiences, and inspirational guidance from trusted mentors I have identify the single most important aspect that every leader needs to embody in order to retain the best of the best over a lifetime. It is the art of character development.
It is said that “Education is the useful knowledge that the student learns through the act of being taught by a teacher.” Nowhere does it say that the lesson has to happen in the classroom, in front of a computer screen or by formal lectures. The leader must teach their disciples what they need to know to successfully solve their future problems, execute their routine duties effectively and demonstrate, during times of adversity, good character traits built on strong values. In the absence of these, eventually, another “teacher” will appear; offering the “student” a trusted source of knowledge, delivered with a selfless heart and the moral integrity the original leader did not adequately provide.
With this truth in mind, to be a great leader, the wise leader must excel in practicing the following three character traits.
First, the wise leader teaches through practicing acts of obedience. If you notice I did not say, you must teach the student obedience. A true and wise leader understands that to be a great leader you must first be a great follower. Your people must observe you being obedient to your leader, the company, your family, to your personal beliefs, and to your value systems. We have all heard before, you must lead by example and this is true. However, unwise selfish leaders pick and chooses what examples they wish to follow not realizing that everyone is watching; forming opinions about their character. Through their actions, everyone they lead will determine if they truly follow the lead set by their own leader. Have you ever noticed how children can’t wait to reach the age of majority so that they no longer need to obey the rules set by their parents? This is immature thinking yet many unwise selfish leaders carry on this mindset into their adult life. It takes a strong, secure, and selfless leader to personify the principle of obedience in their daily life.
The second trait deals with acts of service to others. One of my mentors put this lesson into perspective better than anyone else by simply explaining that “If you help enough people get what they want or need, you will always get what you want or need.” In reflection, are your actions self-centered or altruistic? Whichever they are, the results of those actions will manifest for the entire world to see. If you try to teach people what you want them to do for your benefit and not theirs, it will not take long for your disciples to do one of three things. They will either leave because they know that you only care about yourself, they will adopt your self-centered attitude resulting in their ignoring your needs and those of the clients, or they will stay and contradict your directions in an effort to do what’s right. For the leader, this rarely ends well, because usually the leader, the followers, and the clients all suffer. The wise leader looks for ways to serve those they serve. It is said, “People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” It is the wise selfless leader that looks for ways to serve those whom they care about. People of service will eagerly expand this serving attitude to the community; doing so out of love not out of self-serving motivations.
The final character trait the leader must harness is integrity; practice what you preach. Too many times struggling leaders will teach in the classroom what they want the disciple to know but when the leader has to apply the same lesson in an actual situation, they choose to do it another way; their way. This disconnect prompts unwise leader to rationalize to their disciples, “when you have my experience, you can do what I do, until then, just do what I say, not what I do.” They might not use those exact words; they just allow their actions to do the talking for them. The wise leader lives their life by applying the integrity test to everything they do; always do the right and just thing, even when no one else is looking. Integrity is the trust builder of a relationship. Integrity gives the leader credibility, builds unity and elevates their status in the eyes of those they work with.
Look back over your life. Think of those wise leaders you had the honor and good fortune to follow. They were all obedient followers, selfless servant leaders, and people of integrity. They did not hold formal classes on these principles yet they taught them to everyone by their daily actions and conversation they had with them. They did not compromise their values by ignoring these principles even when they were alone. Leaders that possess these traits will rarely lose good people because the good people can recognize greatness.
If this is my last post, I want all to know there was only one purpose for all that I have written; to have made a positive difference in the lives of others.
Anthony “Tony” Boquet, Vice President, The American College of Financial Services and the author of “The Bloodline of Wisdom, The Awakening of a Modern Solutionary”, your source for additional information about the Power of the Wisdom of Three.