Oklahoma Baptist University

Foundation Head Says Character A Vital Attribute For Leadership

Stressing character and encouragement in leadership, Mike Cawley, president and chief executive officer of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation Inc., delivered the ninth annual Minter Lectures at Oklahoma Baptist University March 6.

The Minter Lectureship is designed to orient and train religious vocation students in the history and nature of the American economic system, and to help the students understand and appreciate the business and professional community.

"When we examine the basic principles impacting effective leadership, the external attribute that is without question the most important is character.

"If you don't have it, you aren't capable of leading. It not only counts, it really counts," he stressed.

Cawley described six basic characteristics of character in leadership.

The first he cited was the purity of heart, mind and hands.

"Being a leader does not mean we will be perfect," he said. "King David was a failure in purity. If you have a problem with purity do something about it. Change. Bad childhood and bad teachers don't cut it. You are without excuse."

The second characteristic Cawley listed was the posture of servanthood.

"Leaders who are most effective are those who submit to authority," he said. "Don't let your title cause an inflated sense of self importance. Pride can be dangerous. It's ugly."

Another leadership characteristic he stressed was perseverance, as he emphasized that "perseverance gives you credibility with yourself."

The fourth characteristic Cawley noted was predictable and sustainable trust.

"As leaders I believe there are times we must let those we lead make decisions, even when we know the outcome, in order to instill trust," he said.

The fifth characteristic he cited was partnership and parenthood. He said if leaders were poor at exercising leadership at home their leadership at work will be questioned.

Cawley concluded the list of characterstics with the element of prayer.

"You have been imbued with fantastic tools that many people don't have," he said. "Rely on prayer."

In the evening lecture, Minter focused on encouragement as a second attribute of leadership.

"Our students, our employees need encouragement," he said. "Jesus and Paul were encouragers. No matter how aloof or withdrawn or cold or callous a person is, because they are a person, encouragement is desired and will have a positive impact on job performance. It may have a positive impact on their life."

Cawley spoke directly to students during his closing remarks.

"You have been given great tools," he said. "You understand the importance of application of Christian principles to life. So as you graduate from here and go into business of whatever career you choose, I challenge you, don't hide those principles. Let people know. They respect that. It stands for something."

The Minter Lectureship in American Business Practice is underwritten by 1940 OBU graduate Lloyd G. Minter of Bartlesville, who built a successful 35-year career with Phillips Petroleum Co., rising to the position of senior vice president and general counsel before retiring in 1978.

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