Leadership Character: A Matter of Trust -- By: Richard Parrott

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 33:0 (NA 2001)
Article: Leadership Character: A Matter of Trust
Author: Richard Parrott


Leadership Character: A Matter of Trust

Richard Parrott

Richard Parrott (Ph.D., Oregon State University), is Executive Director of the Sandberg Leadership Center and of the Doctor of Ministry Program at ATS.

Leadership is the process of influencing others to reach a common goal. Influence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without influence, leadership does not exist. Leaders develop a pattern of behavior used to influence others. This pattern includes the way a leader responds and relates to others in order to influence them toward the accomplishment of the groups goals.

Character is the “aggregate of qualities that distinguish one person from another” (American Heritage Dictionary). If you speak of a person as displaying “strange character,” you mean they exhibit a pattern of behavior that distinguishes them from their normal pattern. If the pattern is consistently different, you may refer to them as “quite a character.” If you break your normal pattern of relating and responding, you may say, “I was out of character.”

When you speak of a person as having “moral character,” they exhibit a pattern or quality of behavior that distinguishes them from an immoral person. Much leadership talk on character is aimed at “moral character.” Moral character makes you a good person. However, it takes more than being a good person to provide good leadership.

A person of “leadership character” has a quality or pattern of behavior that distinguishes them from people who are not leaders. Leaders display patterns of relating and responding that influence the actions of others. Leadership character is the habit or pattern of behavior that provides good leadership.

If you habitually say one thing and follow through on it, if you habitually stand up for the greater good of the organization, if you habitually reconsider a decision when the situation has changed, if you habitually learn from others, then you are providing a pattern of good leadership — you display leadership character.

However, if you habitually say one thing but do another, if you habitually back down under pressure, if you habitually push ahead with your original plans even when the situation has changed, if you habitually refuse to learn from others, then you are providing a pattern of poor leadership — you lack leadership character.

  • What is the pattern of behaving and relating that provides good leadership?
  • What is the spiritual foundation of good leadership character?
  • How is good leadership character developed?

These are the questions discussed at a Roundtable Convocation held ...

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