Much is written about the skills, competencies and vision leaders should exhibit to be effective. However, several thinkers point to the importance of defining and taking responsibility for the values a man or woman possessing influence exhibit to exercise that influence.
Why reflect on the values exhibited by a leader? Heifetz notes that it is the values at the core of a leader that determine whether the leader will be good or bad. This is not a commentary on whether a leader is successful in meeting their organizational goals. Many leaders have been successful in how they approach the organizational metavalues of maintenance, growth and effectiveness/efficiency and yet were exceptionally bad in terms of their moral and social impact e.g., Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin etc.
Greenleaf in his work on servant leadership presents a synergistic model that merges leadership competencies with leadership character (virtue) in a quest to define legitimized power. The idea that legitimized power depends on defining the values by which a leader influences is succinctly pointed out in the dialectic painted by Hodgkinson:
…if a leader is defined by the attributes of being a gentleman and a man of honor, and if our leaders in fact are liars, rogues and Philistines, then we should cease to call them leaders and instead call them what they are, say, manipulators. Or we should require them to cease being manipulators. Or we should embrace the linguistic shift so that henceforth leader means manipulator.
What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? Matthew 16:25-27