Joseph: An Authentic Leader
As I studied for my sermon on Joseph in Genesis 37, one of the articles I read described him as an “Authentic Leader”. As I spoke Sunday, I said that we would see more about his character as we progressed through the rest of the chapters. I thought that for this week’s Weekly Word, I would share a portion of that article, and let you use it to bring to light why God chose Joseph as His “man” to take care of His people.
The title of the article is “JOSEPH: AUTHENTIC LEADERSHIP FORGED IN THE CRUCIBLE” and was written by Melody Smith. It is based on papers written by Bill George, and P.G. Northouse (cited below).
In George’s (2003) practical approach to authentic leadership, he identifies five essential elements: values/behavior, self-discipline/consistency, relationships/connectedness, heart/compassion, and purpose/passion (p. 36). These qualities are not sequential; rather, they represent life-long developmental growth (George, 2003, p. 18).
Values and Behavior. Values and behavior refer to leaders’ innate sense of self: their character, what they value, and what they believe (George, 2003, p. 20). Value driven leaders “have a clear idea of who they are, where they are going, and what the right thing is to do” (Northouse, 2016, pp. 198-199). According to Avolio, Walumbwa, and Weber (2009), authentic leadership encompasses internalized moral perspective, transparency within relationships, self-awareness, and balanced processing (p. 424). Deeply-held morality is a guiding force (George, 2003, p. 20).
Self-Discipline and Consistency. As important as values are, self-discipline is necessary in order to convert one’s core values into actual behavior (George, 2003, p. 24). Stress can impede sound judgment, but authentic leaders have learned to stay calm during times of pressure (George, 2003, p. 41).
Relationships and Connectedness. Authentic leaders are able to establish strong relationships (Northouse, 2016, p. 199). With a genuine tendency toward openness toward others, they share their own stories and take an interest in the stories of others. Through this exchange, bonds of trust and closeness are formed (2016, p. 199). Leaders build connection and commitment within their teams by their openness, even if the dialogue includes constructive feedback or bad news (George, 2003, pp. 40-41).
Heart and Compassion. With a heart of compassion, authentic leaders intentionally care for others (Northouse, 2016, p. 200). They open themselves to people’s personal lives and problems and, in turn, team members are inspired to believe in their leader (George, 2003, pp. 39-40).
Purpose and Passion. Lastly, those who hold a passionate purpose not only know their mission, but are inspired and driven by it (George, 2003, p. 19). Their work deeply matters to them (George, 2003, p. 19). They may grow and learn while working toward someone else’s purpose for a time, but ultimately an authentic leader must discover and commit to her own purpose (George, 2003, p. 19).
Joseph, one of the patriarchs in the Bible, is recognized for his exceptional leadership skills and his unwavering faith in God. Joseph's journey began when he was sold into slavery by his own brothers and taken to Egypt. However, his resilience, wisdom, and ability to interpret dreams earned him favor with his master, Potiphar, who put him in charge of his household. Despite being falsely accused of a crime and imprisoned, Joseph continued to exhibit leadership qualities that eventually led to his appointment as the second in command in Egypt. He implemented successful strategies to store food during times of plenty to prepare for times of famine, which ultimately saved countless lives. Throughout his life, Joseph remained humble and gave credit to God for his success. His leadership serves as an inspiration to many and a testament to the power of faith, resilience, and unwavering commitment to doing what is right.
As we see him develop and experience the hardships that he faces through the next several chapters, I challenge you to use this Word to see what character traits he exhibited and to think about how you can apply them in your own life to become a better “leader” for God.
Journal of Biblical Perspectives in Leadership 9, no. 1 (Fall 2019), 286-303. © 2019 School of Business & Leadership, Regent University ISSN 1941-4692
George, B. (2003). Authentic leadership: Rediscovering the secrets to creating lasting value. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Northouse, P. G. (2016). Leadership: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, Inc
Avolio, B. J., Walumbwa, F. O., & Weber, T. J. (2009). Leadership: Current theories, research, and future directions. Annual Review of Psychology, 60, 421-449. Retrieved from https:// digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1036& context=managementfacpub
Note: Not my usual, but I thought it well worth the time to share it.