Where Are All The Leaders?
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

Have you ever noticed that it is tough to find leaders? They just never seem to be applying for work. There is a very good reason for that. Leaders are already working, and most of the time they are fully engaged in their jobs and doing well. While others hop from job to job, whining about what is wrong with their companies, the real leaders are hard at work trying to improve their places of employment. The truth of the matter is we must go find the leaders we need.  We must be intentional in always trying to find emerging leaders. But do we know what a leader looks like?

In his book, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, author John C. Maxwell begins by identifying the number one quality of a leader as Character. Character is what we are on the inside. It is the foundation that will determine the height of our personal and profession growth. I know this sounds cliché but it really is true. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • Character is what keeps leaders from cutting corners. It’s what keeps a person at a task until it is finished. Leaders keep commitments that they have made even when there would be a good excuse not to. Quite simply, they finish well.
  • Character keeps leaders out of the “gray” areas. Even when there might be a way out, leaders take the short end of the stick. They realize that even though it might be legal, it may not be the right thing to do.
  • Character is much more than talk. Leaders don’t confuse situations with self-serving platitudes, but rather let their actions speak for them.
  • Leaders know that talent is a gift but character is a choice. They view the talents that they possess as a blessing and work hard to develop them.

So how do we find these emerging leaders?

  • As I said, they will be working and engaged in their jobs. You will need to seek them out. Start by looking in your own organization. Who is dedicated and working to make the organization better?
  • Look for networking opportunities with charities. Emerging leaders will be there looking for ways to add value to others.
  • Attend training events where leadership and growth training is offered. While you are there, ask people thoughtful questions about their goals and their outlook for the future.

Character is the foundation of leadership because leaders cannot rise above the level of their character. Find people with character, and you just might find your next leader. When you do, you will find a person that will bring lasting success to you and your organization.