Value of Virtue and Character for Leaders

Philippians 4:8 instructs “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” In other words, Paul the Apostle is encouraging the followers of Jesus to think on the virtues that are close to the heart of God. A virtue is “an inclination to act, think, or feel in a particular way and serves as the foundation…an individual’s character is built” (Fedler, 2006). It is character and virtue that individual’s perceive another individual’s ethical qualities, or that which makes them good excellent, or praiseworthy” (Sarros, 2006, p. 683).

This is why virtues and character are so important to develop for anyone with a desire to be in leadership. Potential followers observe the behavior of a possible leader and often will determine whether or not to follow the leader based on the character shown. Virtues are in direct relation with human agency and personal responsibility; as a person is responsible for the development of their own character through the habitual practice of virtues, a leader is responsible for the development of his character through the habitual practice of virtues for the sake of those who trust to follow (Cawley, 2000, p. 999). A leader’s actions are birthed out of the character that has been cultivated over time; it is this character that instills trust from followers in the leader (Fedler, 2006). Virtues are conducive to the betterment of ‘me’ and the ‘we’ bringing happiness, productivity, and harmony to both the individual and the community (McCullough and Snyder, 2000, p. 3).

Is there a specific virtue that appears to be more vital than others for the development of a leader?


Cawley III, M. J., Martin, J. E., & Johnson, J. A. (2000). A virtues approach to personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 28(5), 997–1013.

Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: study Bible: English standard version (ESV text ed). Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles.

Fedler, K. D. (2006). Exploring Christian Ethics: Biblical Foundations for Morality. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.

James C. Sarros, Brian K. Cooper, & Anne M. Hartican. (2006). Leadership and character. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 27(8), 682–699.

McCullough, M. E., & Snyder, C. R. (2000). Classical Sources of Human Strength: Revisiting an Old Home and Building a New One. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19(1), 1–10.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.