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Character Counts!

In an article from the Harvard Business Review entitled, "Measuring the return on character," (April 2015, 20-21), they addressed the issue of unethical executives whose careers and companies went "down in flames" due to their "hubris and greed." The article wanted to see if the opposite of this type of character would show different results in success. They asked the question, "Do highly principled leaders and their organizations perform especially well?"

According to research done by KRW International based in Minneapolis that deals with consulting leaders and CEOs, the answer is YES! KRW found that CEOs whose employees gave them high marks for character (avg. return on investments was 9.35%) as opposed to those rated with lower character (1.93%).

While character is a subjective trait that might seem to defy quantification, KRW cofounder Fred Kiel and those collaborating with him, tried to measure it. Using information already inventoried by an anthropologist, they identified four moral principles found in all human societies-integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion. Kiel and his colleagues then sent anonymous surveys to employees at 84 U.S. companies and nonprofits, asking how consistently their CEOs and management teams embodied the four principles.

Those CEOs and management people who exhibited high ratings on all four of the principles were called "virtuoso CEOs." These leaders exhibited standing up for what is right, expressing concern for the common good, letting go of mistakes (theirs and others'), and showing empathy.

At the complete opposite of the spectrum were those leaders who were called "self-focused" CEOs. They were often described as "warping the truth for personal gain and caring most about themselves and their own financial security, no matter the cost to others. The employees responded by saying their self-focused CEOs "couldn't be trusted to keep promises, often passed off blame to others, frequently punished well-intentioned people for making mistakes and were especially bad at caring for people.

As people of faith, we would say that anyone who is a leader in a local congregation should be somewhere close to the "virtuoso" side of the spectrum of leadership. After all, the characteristics of integrity, responsibility, forgiveness, and compassion are moral principles we would say align with the beliefs of our faith, and in the life of Jesus Christ. As well, is it not essential for all people of faith to hold these and other principles of which Jesus taught and others who offered a way to be more Christ-like through the scriptures like the Apostle Paul? As I talked about in last Sunday's sermon, "What is essential is invisible to the eye."

This Sunday we will be looking at the selection of David as Israel's next king to replace King Saul. While God's prophet, Samuel, uses a "human rubric" to identify leadership qualities, God has a different idea. God tells Samuel, and us, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I, ...the Lord, do not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (v. 7). For looking at us in the way of God offers us an "unobtrusive view" of us as Holy Containers.

Pastor Steve

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