Do your friendships hinder your leadership?

Oct. 11, 2012 | by Tom Harper

Leadership Principle #30: The highest form of leadership integrity is impartiality.
“Then the Lord said, ‘I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will no longer spare them.’”  – Amos 7:8c

Are you an impartial leader?

When you’re impartial, you’re fair, just, unprejudiced and unbiased. Impartiality produces honesty. Just as s judge’s wise ruling flows out of impartiality, a leader’s integrity flows from impartiality.

The prophet Amos illustrates this in a vision: “The Lord was standing there by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand…. Then the Lord said, ‘I am setting a plumb line among My people Israel; I will no longer spare them’” (Amos 7:7b, 8c, HCSB).

The plumb line is a simple but accurate tool used for determining whether something is perfectly upright. The implication is that God will judge his crooked people with a perfect standard – his law. But they continue to bind themselves to the customs of neighboring nations, rather than to the divine standard.

Today, leaders often fall prey to bias and inconsistent judgment, rather than following the leadership standards God has set. Here are a few tips for becoming more impartial:

1.  Be more judgmental.  There is little room for subjectivity when it comes to determining whether someone has disobeyed or acted immorally. God is merciful, patient, and loving, but he never starts the disciplinary process by calling someone upright who has disobeyed him.

2.  Take someone out if they get out of line (no matter who they are).  In a meeting I ran several years ago, a teammate became extremely belligerent. He was a friend, so his words bit extra hard. He challenged my authority in front of the group. I asked him to follow me into the hallway where I calmly inquired what in the world was going on.

3.  Don’t overreact to positive cues.  A common psychological tactic is feigned sincerity. A Wired magazine article lists tongue-in-cheek tips on how to persuade someone to think you really care about him. [source] The advice includes staring at the table in order to absorb the “astounding” information the other person is revealing. Don’t bite right away when people get emotional; heighten your sensitivity to the facts of the situation first.

4.  Don’t enter a debate too early. Nelson Mandela learned leadership as a young cattle herder. In a 2008 TIME article [source], he said, “Lead from the back — and let others believe they are in front.”

Do you lead impartially enough? Or do your friendships hinder your leadership?

-- This post is from chapter 30 of Leading from the Lions' Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H)


Topics: Leadership , Leading from the Lions' Den

Tom Harper / Tom Harper is president of Networld Media Group, a publisher of online trade journals and events for the banking, retail, restaurant and church leadership markets. He is the author of Leading from the Lions' Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H).
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