Dwight Eisenhower once said,
"In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man's associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose"
(Dwight D. Eisenhower, Great Quotes From Great Leaders, ed. Peggy Anderson, Lombard: Great Quotations, 1989).
Guess what the top quality people mentioned as the most desirable for people in leadership? If you said Credibility then your are correct!. Which we all know is linked to integrity.
Are you credible?
Do people have confidence in your leadership?
To make an impact in peoples' lives, a person must be a credible leader.
Credibility is the "reasonable grounds for being believed." One who is credible is trustworthy. Socrates said, "The first key to greatness is to be in reality what we appear to be." And many years latter, someone has repackaged what Socrates once said when they stated, "Just Keep It Real!"
Have you noticed how many times you hear the above statement?
Authenticity is the mark of someone that is confident, honest, and humble. As a pastor, many folks try to put me on a pedestal and my response when this happens is, "If you cut me I will bleed." And I am truly happy taking that position. What would become of me if I didn't? I'm sure the "pastoral khaki's", tucked in polo shirt, with the blazer would shortly follow. Instead, I'll continue walking into church leadership gatherings with jeans, timberland's, and some sort of Springsteen shirt. And yes, I get the stares and the side looks, but who cares! In the end, I'd rather just be me rather than someone else's version of me.
An important lesson:
I can remember one time helping my youth pastor move furniture and while passing the doorway, he smashed his finger and then let out some very choice words. After a moment or two, he apologized and asked me to forgive him. In that moment, I learned more from him than in any Sunday night youth gathering. He was being "real" and that meant a lot to a teenager who was looking for a role model.
So if you are a leader and you are asking yourself what is the most vital aspect of leading...Then you can stop your search now...it is one word.
Authenticity. Remember, at the end of the day, people do not follow positions they follow people!