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How to Distinguish a Virtuous Leader

Virtuous Leader

While many can see the external connection between what you say and what you do, there is another level of integrity. It’s the integration between your motives and the things you say and do. Most will never know your motives unless you reveal them. Yet motivational integrity is integrity at the deepest level. This is a high calling and a great checkpoint for a leader. Great leaders conceal nothing and are readily willing to share their motives so that others can know the deepest level of their integrity. Purely motivated leaders make powerful leaders. Just consider this: Do you trust a leader whose motives are always in question?

They welcome accountability

A leader that finds accountability laborious or resists legitimate feedback might have a gap in their integrity. On the other hand, a person who leads with integrity invites accountability and feedback. They have a disposition for accountability to ensure they don’t lose ground with others, and even use accountability for their personal improvement.

They spend time with people of character

You are not only known by the people you keep company with, but they shape you. If you desire integrity in your work and personal life, then you must spend time with people of integrity so you can learn from them. Your company of friends and colleagues will either strengthen you or lead you to make compromises of character. Since character is more “caught than taught,” you must always invest your time with people of the highest character; they will always make you better.

They practice integrity when no one’s looking

What people see of your life is often like the tip of an iceberg. Much of life is hidden from the view of others, but the leader with integrity makes the same decisions in private that they do in public. That is because deep-level integrity requires consistency everywhere—especially under the surface. These unseen decisions are the tell-tale sign of a truly integrated life.

This article was adapted from 20 Lessons That Build a Leader: A Conversational Mentoring Guide

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Vince Miller founded the men’s discipleship and leadership ministry Resolute. He writes at the ministry’s website and is author of The Generous Life. He lives with his wife, Christina, and their three children in St. Paul, Minnesota.