Christian Leadership: How to be Successful and Ethical in Business

Aug 31, 2018

Dr. John Aldridge serves as the director of Organizational Management and Leadership Programs and assistant professor of Business and Technology for the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master in Organizational Leadership (MOL) programs with the College of Adult and Graduate Studies at CCU. Read his bio below. The Old Testament is filled with examples of God lifting up leaders - Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Gideon, David, Joshua, Ruth, Jeremiah, Daniel, Esther, and others, all of whom reflect the Messiah's servant leadership attributes. Servant leadership perhaps best expresses what Christian leadership looks like. "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:26-28, English Standard Version). Upon further examining each of the aforementioned biblical leaders, we discover that every one of them struggled with brokenness. Every one of us has weaknesses and strengths or gifts. These biblical leaders made mistakes and had a first-hand understanding of personal and professional challenges involved with leading in times of great change. Yet, each also had a redemptive spirit - a teachable heart and desire for learning. They trusted in divine direction and had faith in God's master plan (Proverbs 3:5-6). Indeed, leaders must be learners. And, as lifelong learners, leaders must consider what drives, motivates, and directs their actions. What guides your decisions and actions? There are most certainly enormous pressures to conform and follow the pack. This is the herd mentality. Or, do you choose the Spirit-led road less traveled and trust in the Lord to direct your steps? "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2, ESV). One of the most valuable attributes of Christian leadership involves establishing and maintaining ethical standards and criteria for making decisions - reflected in a code of conduct and rule of law. Christian leaders therefore are not only learners but also restore the place of values in a world of fact. It is the responsibility of the Christian leader to cast a vision that reaches the hearts and not just the intellect of followers. Ethical conduct reflects the spirit of Christian leadership. More recently, ethics is a topic of great interest in business schools. Sadly, this interest reflects the spirit of our time. It is indeed ironic that so many leaders fail the ethics litmus test. However Christian leaders must be exemplary ethical leaders. How will we know them? By their fruit. Christian leaders are recognized in the way decisions are made and carried out. Let's get analytical. What is Christian leadership? The English word "leadership" originates in the ancient root "leith," which meant "to go forth and die," in battle. And "power" is referred to as having the ability to act or produce an effect, the power or ability to lead other people. According to Peter Northouse (2019), "Leadership is a process whereby one individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal" (p. 6). Leadership is more conventionally thought of as possessing power, authority, capacity, and/or credibility (p. 12). Accordingly, leadership involves a process, influence, groups, and goals. Although Northouse identifies 14 specific styles of leadership in his most recent 8th edition of Leadership: Theory and Practice, Christian leadership is not one of them. Nevertheless, based on this academic definition of leadership, Christian leaders must also be capable of "influencing" others to share common vision, values, and achieve stretch goals. Finally, it might further be considered that having the gift to balance the paradox of grace and truth is most valuable when managing conflicting values or moral dilemmas (John 1:14). What is most obvious therefore is that we need Christian leaders, but what is less obvious is leaders need followers. So, what do you believe differentiates Christian leadership from other styles or approaches to leadership? Does being Christian make a difference?

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Reference Northouse, P. G. (2019). Leadership theory and practice (8th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Biography John Aldridge is a behavioral technologist with over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur and organizational development consultant. John has also served as a technical trainer, instructional designer, and change management consultant for small to mid-sized startups, development-stage organizations, and multi-national Fortune 100 companies. John received his undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder and Regis University in Denver with honors, where he studied cognitive psychology and industrial/organizational psychology. He holds a second master's degree in Organizational Development and a Ph.D. in Human & Organizational Systems from the Fielding Graduate University at Santa Barbara, California. John is certified in interpersonal communications/group dynamics from the Anchor Point Institute.