Character Speaks Louder Than Words

2019-05-16T11:51:33-07:00 October 21st, 2016|Tags: , , , |

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” (General Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of the coalition forces in the Gulf War of 1991)

On October 13, Jim Prentice, former Premier of Alberta and federal cabinet minister, died with three others in a plane crash. While I only met Jim and his wife, Karen, once, his reputation preceded him. From what I had heard, Jim was a person of extraordinary character. I have read many tributes to him over the days subsequent to the tragedy. One in particular stood out and nicely captured what virtually everybody – friends and adversaries – was saying.

“Jim Prentice was that guy who you could make an agreement with for any amount of money on a handshake and he’d keep it. He was a guy who would keep confidences no matter what would happen. He was a man of his word, and a man who wanted the best for the people that he served. It’s hard when we lose anybody who has devoted themselves to public life, but I think it’s really hard to lose people who were really the best.” (Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia)

Jim Prentice truly exemplified General Schwarzkopf’s advice. Note, in particular, Premier Clark’s emphasis on his trustworthiness and his servant leadership. Jim was an active member and volunteer leader of his church and we may safely assume that his faith in God was a major factor in the formation of his character.

I spent much of my business life in the fast-paced investment business. While there have certainly been instances of bad conduct on “Bay Street,” most industry players highly prize good character. In particular, “my word is my bond” is a key rule of the profession. Breaching this code of conduct can be a career ending move!

What does your character say about you?

As followers of Jesus, we are called to emulate his character. It is not uncommon for people to question the tenets of the Christian faith and sometimes (unfortunately) the character of marketplace leaders claiming to be Christians. However, I have never heard or read of anyone who questioned the character of Jesus. Jesus was the ultimate truth teller and servant leader. As marketplace leaders, we have the privilege of representing him as ambassadors to the workplace. This privilege carries with it the responsibility to imitate him in all of our dealings.

In the Bible, the writer Paul underscores the centrality of truthfulness in the lives of those who follow Jesus.

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2)

It is encouraging and motivating when we read of individuals like Jim Prentice who fulfill this ambassadorial role so admirably in a world where there are far too many examples of bad conduct. During this most difficult time, please join me in praying for Karen, his children and grandchildren.

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.