A bald eagle with yellow beak and white head.

The foundation of leadership

In Church Leadership, Ministry Coaching by Russ Olmon

There is one foundational component of leadership that must be in place before you can ever hope to influence or inspire another person. If you don’t have it, there is no reason to waste your time or energy trying to develop leadership skills. Leadership skillscannotbe developed without it.

What is that component? Integrity.

There is a part of leadership that cannot be taught in a course. It’s at the very core of a person’s character. This is the part of leadership that comes from the heart rather than the head. No techniques, no matter how brilliant, can hide your inner beliefs and motives. You cannot fake integrity. If your people are not convinced that you are truly attempting to do the right thing (for them, for the church, and for the customer), if you are not someone they can trust, you are destined to fail as a leader.

When you have integrity, what you say and what you do match up. When you have integrity you are the same person in front of your leaders as you are in front of your church family. You are the same person when no one is looking as you are when you’re being observed. Integrity doesn’t allow for pretending. Integrity means you practice what you preach. Integrity doesn’t mean that you are perfect; it means that you are perfectly honest.

‘The first key to greatness is to bein reality what we appear to be.’


Integrity creates credibility. Unless you have credibility people won’t have enough confidence in you to allow you to influence them.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was both our 34th president and the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces during World War II. Here is what he said about leadership:

‘In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real leader is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, on a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man’s associates find him guilty of phoniness, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore, is integrity and high purpose.’

Dwight D. Eisenhower