“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 if you are going to be an effective leader. You cannot consistently influence people to follow you with any sense of conviction, without first gaining their trust. Leaders who use manipulation with “carrot and stick” methods to entice their team to follow, will never gain the trust of their followers.
Trust is a genuine motivator. People who trust you as their leader and respect you will always give more of themselves to the cause. Leaders of poor character, or who lack competence, tend to use and abuse people. These leaders will never earn trust and respect. Here’s God’s instruction to Moses about how to select leaders who have 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)
Your leadership capacity will increase as you grow in the areas of 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. Begin by focusing on growing in character and competence and your leadership capacity will increase with time and experience.
It is possible to have a leader with the skill to lead thousands but lacks character. Even though they lead a large number of people, they will not be effective 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. As a Christian leader, always evaluate and learn from both your mistakes and 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. The courage to admit failures and mistakes is 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, take great care in selecting future leaders. 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. Grow yourself first and then grow your leadership team. It’s not what you do in a day, but what you do daily that will make the difference.