Servant leaders have a high degree of moral character.
A quick examination of the contrasts between Lance Armstrong (who has recently been in the news) and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (who we honor today) will reveal great differences in character.
Lance Armstrong cheated most of his cycling career. Not only did he cheat at a very high level, but also he continued to fabricate and perpetuate lies, dragging other innocent people into precarious situations, all to cover up his cheating. He had no courage to do the right thing for all those years.
His conduct was clearly just the opposite of that of a servant leader.
MLK Jr. however was one of the all time great servant leaders. He had a very high degree of moral character. One of his greatest character traits was courage. He had the courage to carry on for what was right, even at great risk to his family, and eventually to the point of his death.
MLK Jr. was more concerned about the well being of others than his own. He was a great servant leader!
A servant leader lives, leads, and loves by his/her conscience, which is their inward moral sense of what is right and what is wrong.
Harvard conducted a study that found 85% of a leader’s performance depends on their personal character. Leaders who are seen as persons of character are more likely to generate loyalty, creativity, and productivity among their organization’s employees.
Character consists of three parts:
- Moral Knowing
- Moral Feeling
- Moral Behavior
Good character consists of knowing the good, desiring the good, and doing the good. These are the habits of our mind, our heart, and our actions.
The late Norman Schwarzkopf said, “The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” He also said, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy.”
In my opinion we almost always know what is right, and at the same time we certainly feel what is right. The key is stepping out and having the courage to do what is right!
Thank you Dr. King for being such a great role model for us to have a heart for service, and to have the courage to do the right thing!
Thanks for these awesomely convicting thoughts Mark! You are absolutely right about the contrast between Mr. Armstrong and Dr. King. In my own personal values, I hold honor, courage, and commitment as my most important aspirations. Living up to these every day is extremely challenging. I believe courage is honor in action. We must be mentally and morally fit so that we are prepared to act when our honor requires it. Have a great day!