What’s one of the greatest challenges a leader—especially a Christian one—faces?
Because God has uniquely wired each of us with particular skills, abilities and personality types and traits, every leader tends to look a little different. Some are the super-confident, assertive alpha types. Others are incredibly engaging, leading powerfully through charisma and influence. Others still are a little more reserved, and their leadership shines through in how they relate to others moreso than what they say.
These are not bad things by any means. However, a leader always needs to be aware of how his personality is influencing the culture of his organization—whether a church, non-profit or corporation. Albert Mohler explains this exceptionally well in one of my favorite new books on leadership, The Conviction to Lead (a book I reviewed not too long ago):
…faithful leaders understand that while they will influence the organization with their personality, they must never allow personality to be the defining mark of leadership.
There are two dangers here. The first is the well-known “cult of personality,” in which the persona of the leader becomes the hallmark of the organization. Personality cults take over the culture of the organization, with the leader sometimes becoming more prominent than the organization itself. The other danger is that the leader will rely on personality as a substitute for conviction or competence. Personality is important, but it will fall flat when conviction wanes or competence is lacking. (108)
These dangers are so important for us to understand.
We can all point to examples of organizations where the personality of the founder or leader has overtaken the organization’s culture. And we can all just as easily enough think of examples of either fairly charismatic leaders or ones who lead through fear and intimidation because they’re simply not very good at their jobs.
The point of saying this (and of course Mohler’s writing it) is not to take an opportunity to point at someone else and say, “I’m glad I’m not like that guy!”
We have to remember that personality needs to be both cultivated and stewarded carefully. A leader’s personality can and should influence an organization’s culture. But leaders must be mindful of the negatives they bring to the table as well—because those will spread through the culture as well (and possibly faster than your positives).
Courtesy of Bethany House, today I’m giving away five copies The Conviction to Lead to readers of this blog. To enter, just use the handy-dandy Punchtab app below and answer the following question in the comments:
Who is the best leader you’ve met? Why?
The giveaway closes tonight at 11:59:59 pm (ET) and winners will be contacted via email shortly thereafter.