book “Leaders”, Mr. Bennis and Mr. Nanus assert
that a “leader is responsible for the set of ethics or
norms that govern the behavior of people in the organization.”
They go on to say that these ethics can be established by the
leader’s own demonstration, “by choosing carefully
the people with whom they surround themselves, by communicating
a sense of purpose for the organization, by reinforcing appropriate
behaviors, and by articulating these moral positions to external
and internal constituencies.” This statement asserts that
a leader is responsible for the ethics his people live by when
acting under him, and then suggests means of encouraging the
people to follow the ethics. This is a true assertion, and is
completely compatible with a biblical, Christian worldview.
In the light
of scripture, a leader is responsible for the ethics his
people follow. In fact, a leader is responsible not only for
ethics, but also for his own actions, the actions of his organization,
and the actions of his people as they pertain to the organization.
A leader is the federal and covenant head of his organization,
like a father is head of his family, and Christ is head of the
church. He is under moral obligation to make sure his people
are following laws that are true, lawful, and honoring to God.
We know this from Jesus Christ, who was the ultimate example
of this responsibility. He was responsible for His chosen people’s
actions (sins) to the point of becoming sin for them, in order
that they might be redeemed and truly become His people.
a leader is responsible for the ethics of his people, he must
therefore figure out how to motivate them to follow the ethics.
First and foremost, he must follow the ethics himself. After
all, the definition of a leader is one who leads, and if a leader
does not follow the ethics he sets forth, what else is he doing
but leading those who follow him away from the ethics? General
Robert E. Lee, leader of the Confederate Army, knew this well.
He was a devout Christian, and his first and foremost desire
was for His men to know the joy of being a child of God. He
fashioned his character and actions to reflect that of his Savior
in every area that he could, because he wanted his men to see
God in him. To further this end he gave almost no indication
of any anger or bitterness at the south‘s loss of the
war, and his subsequent inhumane treatment by the United States
should set the moral tone by carefully choosing those people
with whom he surrounds himself. When a dynamic and outstanding
leader is seen fraternizing with people whose character does
not reflect the ethics that the leader has chosen to follow,
he will lose respect inside and outside his organization. Not
to mention risking the possibility of his being led astray by
those other characters. This was demonstrated by Rehoboam, son
of Solomon, King of Israel. Rehoboam sought advice from his
father’s councilors and from his young, foolish friends.
He then rejected the advice of his father’s wise men,
and instead chose the advice of his friends. Therefore the Lord
fulfilled the word He had spoken to Solomon, and split Israel
into two kingdoms.
a leader must communicate a sense of purpose for the organization.
No organization or structure of any kind can exist without a
purpose, and most legitimate ones have a set of written goals
they wish to accomplish. Because the leader is the visible and
responsible figurehead, he must be forever working towards these
goals in ways that will spur his followers onward themselves.
He should also draw a parallel between following the ethics
and the success of the enterprise. A good example of this would
be the Bible, which includes God’s goal for His creation.
In it we see many accounts of people who were blessed because
they followed God’s ethics.
from that comes the well known practice of rewarding good behavior.
If there is no incentive to follow the ethics, then human nature
will dictate that people obey only so much as it benefits them.
As parents reward their children for following their instructions,
as students are awarded good grades for doing their schoolwork
correctly, as Christians are rewarded with heaven after their
life work, so a leader must reward his followers for obeying
his instructions and the ethics correctly.
and most importantly, a leader must articulate the ethics to
his followers. After all, what’s the point of expecting
people to abide by the ethics you want them to follow when they
don’t know what the ethics are? When telling the rules,
it is a good idea to drive them home with examples (parables,
in the case of Jesus), or perhaps by telling the rules in a
memorable way. (“The first rule of fight club is: you
do not talk about fight club. The second rule of fight club
is: you do not talk about fight club.”)
it is clear that leadership means responsibility, and a big
part of responsibility is making sure your followers obey the
ethics. A Christian should be the best leader of all, for the
ethics he has his people follow are the ethics of the Lord of