Leadership is a very elusive concept. Are leaders born or are they made? Does Leadership always promote good causes and outcomes or does it traffic in the immoral or evil, at times? What caused Hitler, Mussolini, Saddam Hussein and countless others throughout history to use their leadership gifts and abilities towards such evil ends? Deepak Chopra, the renowned author, and lecturer maintains that every leader, regardless of the goodness of the cause they are initially promoting, has a ‘shadow energy’ that portends the dark side of their personalities. According to Chopra, there are seven types of Leaders: Protector, Entrepreneur/Politician, Team Builder, Nurturer, Innovator, Visionary and Saint. Chopra maintains that each of these, including the Saint, has a shadow energy. To illustrate, let us take a look at the shadow energy of the Entrepreneur/Politician type of leader, as described by Chopra.

Chopra states that the Entrepreneur/Politician, for instance, has an insatiable need for achievement, with a leadership response that is driven by ego. Their frame of reference is self-image, and they are object referred. In other words, Chopra submits, their “thinking and behavior are always in anticipation of a response. It is, therefore, fear-based.” He goes on to say that in object referral, “we always feel an intense need to control things. We feel an intense need for eternal power. The need for approval, the need to control things, and the need for external power are needs based on fear.” And, their ‘shadow energy’ is made up of behaviors based on “ruthlessness, perfectionism, intimidation, stubbornness, manipulation, control, selfishness, greed, influence peddling, power mongering, cronyism, and corruption.” This definition does not include all corporate and political leaders. However, the potential for the manifestation of their ‘shadow energy’ is always present–given the right circumstances. Every leader, regardless of the type, should always be vigilant about keeping their ‘shadow energy‘ in check.

One way to keep this ‘shadow energy’ in check is to practice what I am calling Moral Leadership. My definition of Moral Leadership is a sacred covenant between the leader and followers characterized by the leader being ethical, humble, intentional, directional and supportive. Moral leadership, when consciously and consistently practiced, will release the creative energies of the followers. By being ethical on a day to day, minute to minute basis, the moral leader sets the bar high for his/her organization. Regarding humility, a humble leader, first and foremost, listens and does not hog the credit for all the accomplishments of the group. He or she sits down and gives credit to the team when things go well and will stand up to take responsibility when things don’t go so well. Being intentional means explicitly stating why we are doing what we’re doing. As Warren Bennis pointed out, directional leadership requires the leader to “do the right thing” versus the manager’s obligation to “do things right.” How many times have we observed a group being very efficient and effective at doing the WRONG thing? Finally, the enlightened leader is supportive regarding his/her time, coaching, feedback and allocation of resources needed to accomplish the stated goal(s). Remember that a realistic and well-executed goal is always more impactful than the unrealistic, yet, well-written one.

In closing, based on my years of observing leaders, good and bad, I have come up with seven qualities that effective leaders both possess and use.

  • Initiative: readiness and ability in initiating action, enterprise
  • Intuition: a keen and quick insight
  • Insight: penetrating mental vision or discernment
  • Integrity: adherence to moral and ethical principles
  • Intellect: the capacity for thinking and acquiring knowledge
  • Instinct: an innate impulse, inclination towards action
  • Introspection: the act or process of looking into oneself.

Note that each of the qualities starts with the letter “I.” As Michael Jordan once said, “There is no ‘I’ in Team, but there is in WIN!”



2 thoughts on “MORAL LEADERSHIP

  1. It is absolutely crazy and to some extent beyond my understanding that leaders don’t always understand the concept of equality. My hometown newspaper would put (colored) behind the name of anyone mentioned in the news in the early 1900s. In college we were taught never to mention race unless is it pertinent like in a description of a person on the run who is being sought by authorities. That was simply one of the first laws of journalism. So I came home and worked on my hometown paper and within a couple months a young black man reportedly raped a white student on the Beloit College Campus and, of course, I followed the rules but then my boss, just a decade older than I, wrote a headline like: BC Coed raped by black man over weekend. At least two of us on the staff pointed out what we thought was his mistake and he continued to insist it made a difference, even with the importance of the story. We noted that rape is rape and a person should get the same penalty if found guilty of raping a person, no matter who or what the person was. He agreed with that but would still not change the headline.
    A few years later an elder at the LC-MS I belonged to was telling of a nurse who was raped by a black guy as she left her job at the hospital at 3 a.m. Hen then went on to say that was a case when abortion would be appropriate. I checked to see he was serious and almost did not know how to respond. The act of rape was caused or allowed by God and unless he wished it to happen the event would not have resulted in a human being and like everything else in this world God created that baby belonged to God and it was our responsibility to raise, protect and nature the baby if the mother were unable to, for the simply reason it was God’s child. It became a child of God at conception and that is all there is to it. Now, I have just admitted to what degree I am a conservative and given evidence that true conservatives are not prejudice. Now, for any of us who have failed to nurture and protect such a child — to any extent — can rest assured that if we are sorry for our sin and truly repentant, Jesus will forgive us and cover over that transgression with all the rest we have so when God goes to judge us he will seen a clean slate.

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