“Trust is equal parts character and competence… You can look at any leadership failure, and it’s always a failure of one or the other.” ~ Stephen Covey
Trust is essential to effective leadership. You cannot consistently influence people to follow you with any sense of conviction, without first gaining their trust. Some leaders buy influence with “carrot and stick” methods to entice their team to follow, but they do not have the trust of their followers.
Trust motivates. People, who trust their leader and respect him, will always give more of themselves to the cause. Those who have been coerced or manipulated to produce will only do their work half-heartedly. They have no sense of commitment to the cause. Their focus is either on gaining the “carrot” or avoiding the “stick”. The most effective and efficient leaders, have the trust of their people because they lead with both character and competence.
But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. (Exodus 18:21 NLT)
Leadership capacity increases by growing in character and competence. Not every leader has the capacity to lead “one thousand”, but every leader can lead with character and competence regardless of the size of the team. Growing leadership capacity takes time and experience.
It is possible to have a leader of thousands who lacks character. Even though they lead a large number of people, they still lack leadership capacity due to their lack of character. Competent leaders who lack character have very limited influence.
Character and competence are like alternating rungs on a leadership ladder. If you want to grow as a leader, you must equally grow in character and competence. Leaders are learners. As a Christian leader, always evaluate and learn from both your mistakes as well as your successes when it comes to character and competence. No one is perfect and you will probably have occasional lapses in either or both of these areas throughout the challenges you encounter as a leader.
Be humble and teachable. Failure and the courage to admit mistakes and confess them are essential. Mistakes are an inevitable part of the growth journey, even in the areas of character and competence. Too often we rationalize our mistakes because it is extremely painful as a leader to admit a breach of character or competence. Call it for what it is, then repent and get back on track. God’s grace is amazing and fully sufficient to forgive you and sustain you.
When building your team and selecting future leaders, be sure to take seriously their track record in the areas of character and competence. Leaders who are always growing in both areas will climb to great heights of influence. Take time today to evaluate your own character and competence. Create a daily plan to help you reflect and grow in these two areas of leadership.