06/19/2012 11:33 am ET Updated Aug 19, 2012

Desirable Leadership Traits From the Old Testament

While our contemporary focus frequently tends to be on flawed leadership and disastrous mistakes, the Old Testament contains examples of desirable leadership traits and good decisions. Here are six examples that the reader may expand:

1. Upon becoming king, Solomon sought " a discerning heart to govern... and to distinguish right from wrong." (I Kings 3:9). Seeking good judgment skills and ethical sensitivity is a prerequisite to effective leadership. The opposite leads to disaster and scandal. The search for ethical sensitivity is a noteworthy leadership trait.

2. The succession of Joshua to Moses begins with Joshua taking orders from Moses
(Exodus 7), being an aide (Exodus 24), exhibiting confidence in the face of challenges (Numbers 14), transitioning to partial leadership (Numbers 27), receiving a commission and blessing (Deuteronomy 34), and assuming full leadership (Joshua 1). Training and a gradual assumption of authority made the transition of Joshua to leadership remarkably smooth. The overall process models successor planning.

3. David showed restraint when confronted and cursed by Shimel (II Samuel 16). An aide, Abishai, wanted to kill Shimel but David said, "Leave him alone; let him curse..." (II Samuel 16:11). Wisely ignoring a wrong is frequently desirable when one is a leader.

4. Joseph imposed an integrity test on his brothers (Genesis 44) and subsequently forgave their mistreatment of him (Genesis 50). "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..." (Genesis 50:20). A good leader verifies the integrity of those who are around him, does not hold grudges, and is optimistic in adversity.

5. Queen Esther acted decisively in the face of danger when the cause was just (Esther 7). She took seriously the admonition from Mordecai that " have come to your royal position for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). Courage in difficult times is a desirable leadership trait.

6. Boaz interacted with his workers and greeted them (Ruth 2:4). He also showed compassion to the poor (Ruth 2). A good leader is not aloof and is compassionate to those in need.

These examples illustrate that good leaders seek wisdom and ethical sensitivity, carefully plan for succession, know when to ignore wrongs, are optimistic and courageous, are compassionate, and are not aloof. These traits throughout recorded history are some of the attributes of successful leaders.