Leadership that's focused on skills, power, and outward competence is not helping much---not in the ways that matter. Frankly, it's hurting us. Today's focus on outer skills only masks our inability to produce, or better, cultivate, the kind of leaders who have inner lives that can sustain the rigors of leadership in our tumultuous times. Last year, I was asked to propose a new course for leadership development at the graduate school where I've taught as adjunct faculty for the past decade. I proposed a course called, "The Virtuous Leader: Cultivating a Heart for Skilled Ministry." Virtue, I argued, is what today's leaders really need. More, virtue is what our communities need.
"No thanks," I was told. "Our students want skills, they need to know how to get things done. Virtue is so . . . well . . . old school. It'll never sell."
"Never sell." Does anyone else see the tragedy in that?
Leadership without virtue is getting us nowhere. It's ruining our communities, betraying our trust, adding to the uncivil culture that plagues our land.
When virtue is out of fashion, we're in big trouble.
Leadership that cultivates virtue requires inner work, serious interior heavy lifting.
And unless we demand virtue from our leaders, and challenge them to do their inner work, we'll keep getting the leaders we deserve.