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Just Because People Follow You Doesn’t Mean They Trust You

November 21, 2011

Ever known a leader who was leading by position only?

Steve Carell made the character Michael Scott a household name from the sitcom The Office. (BTW, it’s just not the same without him.)

Michael Scott was a leader by position only. In the sitcom the other characters didn’t respect Michael even though he was the leader – the office manager. In this case it was due to his lack of competence. His office staff followed him but didn’t respect him.

Sometimes people lead by position only because of a lack of integrity. That’s when people follow but don’t trust.

A friend of mine served with a pastor who by all public appearances was a man of integrity. However, privately the pastor was being less than honest with the church finances. His entire staff was aware of it and eventually it was handled in an appropriate way.

Here’s the interesting thing. The pastor was a nice man, with a high Scripture IQ, a good speaker, and a caring person. Despite his talent and kindness, the staff was aware of his financial indiscretions. Their challenge was hearing their pastor speak on integrity. Soon they found themselves following a person they didn’t trust.

You want to be a person people follow. You also want to be a person people trust. You can be one without the other.

“Moral Authority” is a concept I learned from Andy Stanley. When we lead from our moral authority (actual integrity) vs. our position (title) people can follow AND trust. (You can download a free message here by Andy Stanley on this topic.)

Before taking my current position, I talked with several people about the church leadership of my current church and one word that continually came up was “integrity”. That meant so much to me. I was going to be moving my family across the country and nothing, not the church model, the preaching style, or church growth projections mattered as much as the integrity of the leadership.

If you’re a leader are people following you because of your position or because of your moral authority? One way you can find out is by asking people who know you well, “Am I trustworthy?” Also, do the people that follow you ever ask for your input in areas outside of your job responsibilities?

Becoming a trustworthy leader is a much higher goal than just becoming the boss.


From → Leadership

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