The Character Crisis that can Chase People Away

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This month’s leadership coaching trip with Bill Hybels through South America and Mexico saw more than 3000 leaders impacted.

One of the recurring themes that emerged centered on “What kind of leader do people want to follow?”

To a group of leaders in Rio de Janeiro Bill emphatically underscored 2 chilling qualities people can’t stand in their leaders.

As Bill taught this point I recognized that if leaders fail to eradicate these qualities early they could have a full-blown character crisis on their hands…

 1.       “People can’t stand dishonesty in their leader.”

In my own notes I jotted down that the real danger is rarely in the telling of bald-face lies. For most leaders dishonesty seeps in through the most subtle of statements and actions. Some of the most common include:

  • Chronic lateness
    • “I’ll meet you tomorrow at 9:00 am.” Then you show up at 9:10.
    • Some leaders will dismiss their chronic tardiness as a reflection merely of their demanding schedule. But it ultimately communicates dishonesty.
  • Consistent lack of follow-through
    • “I’ll call you next week.” And no call is made.
    • When you consistently fail to follow through on even the smallest of commitments people come to doubt any commitment you make.

2.       “People can’t stand arrogance in their leader.”

Here I wrote down that such arrogance usually reveals itself in the smallest, but deadliest, forms of subtle behavior and speech.

  • The White-Knight complex
    • Implicitly, or explicitly, some leaders make it sound like they had ridden in on a stallion and had single-handedly rescued the organization from certain doom.
    • People withdraw their support from such leaders.

Consider using this checklist to form your own character audit.

Because if you can catch these indicators when they’re relatively small, you can avoid a full-blown character crisis later on.

How do you prevent these character crises from seeping into your leadership?

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.


  1. Scott, A friend of mine took me to Willow, little did I know that it was Bill I was listening to. He his leadership gifts are beyond words I’ve only started on my journey, finishing Bill’s book “The Whisper”. Has headed me into concerns from people that many feel don’t matter. Homeless & Mentally Ill. Where God’s taking me from here has been only through prayer and His “Whisper”.

  2. Wendy, that’s a remarkable story of how you were led to Willow, and how God has used that experience to touch you in a very meaningful way.God bless you as you follow His leading.

    Thanks so much for sharing this.

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