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Moral Intelligence | Leadership

Updated: May 30

A few years ago in Conyers, Georgia, a high school discovered that a backup player on their state championship basketball team had actually been academically ineligible to compete.

What did they do in response?

They could have just swept it under the rug and no one would have noticed. The student only played 45 seconds in the whole tournament. It was not that big of a deal.

But that’s not how they saw it.

They returned the state championship trophy they had won just three weeks before. They could have kept quiet and kept the trophy, but they had too much moral intelligence to do so. 

The coach said, “We didn’t know he was ineligible at the time . . . but you’ve got to do what’s honest and right and what the rules say. I told my team that people forget the scores of the games; they don’t forget what you’re made of.” (1)

The truth is, in the minds of most people, it didn’t matter that the championship title was forfeited. The coach and the team were still champions.

As leaders we're often faced with decisions that test our integrity.

This is where moral intelligence comes in.

Moral Intelligence refers to our capacity to live by the ethical principles we believe.

Here are a couple questions to consider when assessing you moral intelligence.

In what circumstance could your leadership ability outpace your character?

Can you think of a situation where your integrity didn't keep pace with your leadership skills?


There is no correlation between natural abilities and maturity.

It’s easy to assume that someone in a position of leadership is mature and healthy. Unfortunately this is not always true. People often find themselves in a position of leadership because of their talent, not because of their character or maturity. It's important for us as leaders to be intentional about cultivating virtue and service.

Our commitment to can easily be eroded by our pursuit of progress.

Your natural leadership ability pushes you forward helps you improve. Leaders want to get improve and inspire those around. As we do, it's important to pay special attention to the cultivation of virtue and service. (2) 


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