“A true leader’s position should not reflect any self-serving personal or political interests but benefit ‘the greater good’ of humanity. The moral aspect of leadership provides a vision rooted in universal aspirations, principles and values, while the innovative aspect of leadership provides the methods through which the vision can be realized. They are like two sides of a coin.” -Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon

Morality and innovation are both essential aspects of the leadership needed today. Like “two sides of a coin,” moral leadership, guided by unchanging principles and a dream, can lead to greater innovation.

The following are four traits that make leaders more innovative because of a high ethical standard:

1. Mindfully Humble

In order to grow, a leader must be humble in his or her mindset. Although it is sometimes a painful process, honesty and humility can also be incredibly liberating, offering one space to self-reflect and find new perspectives in difficult situations. A mindful, growth-oriented person should take time out to reflect to determine what steps need to be taken to develop the attitude and strategies that ultimately lead to true success.

As we grow into adults, it can become easy to be held back by our ego and fear of failure or concerns about being liked. However, humble leaders are able to put their egos aside to open their mind to new possibilities and embrace mindful curiosity, an essential aspect in our capacity to innovate.

2. Comfortable with Risk

Leadership requires risk. A moral leader embodies the qualities of courage and foresight, identifying and mitigating risks while meeting challenges wherever they are found. The mindset and confidence of the kind of leader that can address uncertainty can only be gained through constant, continuous effort.

Not all innovative ideas are successful and risks should not be taken lightly but with optimism and motivation to serve the greater good, moral, innovative leaders can overcome any obstacle or challenge along the way.

3. Leads by Example

Moral leaders make for inspiring and positive role models in that the most powerful directions they give are the ones that are left unspoken. Leading by example, a leader does not ask people to be or do anything they have not already accomplished or are willing to accomplish or be themselves.

Innovative requires inspiration; to bring out the creative genius in others, truly inspirational leaders set and meet the highest standards for themselves, challenging others to do the same.

4. Lives for Others

Any person in a leadership position is not there for his or her own sake, but for the sake of the people around they lead. A selfless leader lives by universal principles, recognizing the equal and inalienable rights given to each person by the same Creator. As stated by James Wilson, signer of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Supreme Court Justice, “Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine.”

A leader who lives for the sake of others can cultivate empathy, compassion and an expansive worldview. This enables him or her to understand and communicate alternative perspectives, thereby creating pathways for innovation and development in the local community.

There are many other traits of moral and innovative leaders. What do you see as an essential trait of moral and innovative leaders?

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