As the new year approaches us, I want to take the time to speak to Christians in corporate leadership positions. We live in a world today that feels intensely divided and chaotic. It would be no surprise to see social issues begin to touch the workplace and cause even more division. Even more, Christians in corporate leadership positions will have a diverse workforce with various differing beliefs and backgrounds. These leaders need to recognize this and take certain actions to help mitigate certain issues that may come from impending conflicts. How Christian corporate leaders handle issues will present to their followers the true nature of their character.
Considering that virtue comes from the heart of an individual, one must understand its connection with the core of who someone is and whom they are going to be. As Christians, the act of being virtuous includes high morals rooted in faith, knowledge of God’s word, and self-control (1 Peter 5:7). Furthermore, the virtuous Christian “walks in integrity” (Proverbs 10:9) and exudes truthfulness, honorability, justice, and purity (Philippians 4:8). These attributes need not merely be actions but engraved into a Christian’s heart. Their actions, although “right” must start with the “right” motives and intentions. Starting with the “right” motives and intentions is rooted in both the virtues and character development of a Christian. Continuous character development involves “transformation of the entire person” as Jesus calls Christians to a “higher righteousness”.
So how do Christians transform to this “higher righteousness” in a way that exudes integrity and garners trust from their followers? The following are strategies Christians need to take to not only lead with integrity but also continue to develop and maintain their Christian character.
Christians in leadership positions need practical wisdom.
Since character determines both a leader’s day-to-day behavior and outlook, it is essential to examine the character of a leader. One necessary character trait that should be examined is “practical wisdom” which speaks to a leader’s ability to identify and implement the right goals from the start, developing a “wise strategy”, and advancing a wisdom-based approach to strategic management. Wise leaders have the ability and courage to “properly exercise” virtues. Christians must seek and ask God for wisdom to lead (James 1:5).
Those who can not love, can not lead.
Christians are commanded to imitate God’s love as this is the very essence of godly character (Ephesians 5:1-2). Leaders who operate in toxic behavior or allow toxic behavior to fester shows the very opposite of love. Leaders with toxic behavior lack empathy and compassion for their followers or simply do nothing to create better functioning environments for their followers. Followers suffer directly through the hands of their toxic leader or indirectly due to the passive inaction of their leader. Essentially, toxic behavior from such leaders could include the following: 1) personality disorder such as narcissism, lack of empathy, and a constant need for admiration, 2) misguided values and choosing self-interests over the interests of others, and 3) avoidance of reality or resistance in facing facts.
Such leaders often engage in the unethical bullying of employees with seemingly less power than themselves. These employees can suffer unfair supervision, unfair treatment, belittling, threats, overworking, rudeness, and even violence. These practices then lead to negative reactions from followers and low overall organizational performance. Followers who stay seek retribution, causing an endless cycle of dysfunction within the organization. Other followers leave and find other work as soon as possible causing the organization to lose top talent.
A Christian’s value system and thought processes need to be connected to effectively lead.
Wright (2010) discusses how the “framework of thought” brings about the discourse of virtue. As Christians, this means our thoughts are to lead to actions that reflect the “divine image” of God. In terms of strategic leadership, success is established by how the leader thinks of his/her ability to execute his/her thoughts. These leaders develop an understanding and practice rationale before making a decision. In return, these leaders have better success in achieving company goals. Poor decisions come when leaders disregard the welfare and interests of others and overall, the organization.
Thank you for taking the time to read this installment of The Better Business Journal!
Now, I would love to hear from you. Which part of this post resonated most and why? What action can you take today? What do you think Christians in leadership positions need to do to lead a diverse workforce while also maintaining their Christian value system?
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With much love,
For a list of references used to write this article, please click here.