Leaders define whatever they lead by the way that they live their lives. Like it or not, people focus much more on who we are than on what we say when it comes to understanding where we are going, so the image that we project is very important. This is where it gets tricky because we have a couple of choices when it comes to our public image.
One choice is persona, a personality that we project in public. A persona is a kind of mask that dresses up who we really are. It’s when someone asks you how you are right after you’ve had a fight with your spouse, and you say, “I’m fine.” You aren’t really fine, but you don’t want to discuss your marriage, so you act as if everything is great. To some degree we all project personas, and it’s a good thing we do because the world’s not ready to see the unfiltered us.
The other image choice is character, who we really are when no one is looking. The problem with character is that it’s flawed, and always will be, so leaders often choose to project a persona in order to hide their flaws. A little persona is good because, remember people aren’t ready for the unfiltered us all the time. But when the persona we project completely hides our character, we have at least three problems:
- Phoniness – We lose our sense of authenticity when we try to be someone we really aren’t. People are looking for authentic leaders, and this is a huge loss.
- Exhaustion – Hiding the real me takes a lot of energy. It’s harder work to be someone I’m not than it is to be who I really am. The wasted energy could be much better used in pursuing my vision.
- Poor Modeling – When we lead with persona, it’s a signal to those around us to do the same. This is deadly to any organization, especially a new church.
So do we choose persona or character? Clearly we need a little persona but, to be effective leaders, we need a lot of character.
Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.