The most important quality of effective leadership


Adam Bryant has interviewed 525 chief executives for his “Corner Office” column in the New York Times. In his final article, he identifies the most important characteristic of effective leadership: trustworthiness. He quotes a CEO who notes, “If you want to lead others, you’ve got to have their trust, and you can’t have their trust without integrity.”

This observation is on my mind today as I reflect on my weekend spent at The Cove, Billy Graham’s conference and retreat center in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. If you were to cite one characteristic that defines the famed evangelist, I would guess that “integrity” would be at the top. And you’d be right.

What explains his godly character? His amazing global ministry? His enduring legacy?

Reflecting on a remarkable legacy

The Cove is one of the most beautiful and worshipful places I’ve ever visited. It is just one facet of Dr. Graham’s continuing ministry.

The famed evangelist will turn ninety-nine years old next week; his beloved wife went to her eternal home ten years ago. Their ministry has led more people to Christ than any other in history. God’s work in my soul this past weekend is just one more example of the Lord’s work through their faithfulness.

Billy Graham’s story proves that we can rarely see the end from the beginning. When Dr. Graham preached his first sermon eighty years ago, it went so poorly that a man in the church told him, “Boy, you better go back to school and get a lot more education because you’re not gonna make it.”

But God had a plan for this son of a North Carolina dairy farmer. Neither Billy nor Ruth Graham ever sought worldly wealth or status. Their sole desire was to be faithful to their Kingdom calling. And God has done far more with them than they could have done for him.

Paradoxically, the key to their global acclaim has been their personal humility. The key to their power has been their powerlessness.

I have observed…

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