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Seneca the Younger, 1st Century Roman Philosopher

In this time of leadership upheaval, we are in the right moment to reflect on what makes a great leader. In Warren Buffett’s 2015 letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, he summarized “how one arrives at leadership greatness” – and it echoes what Seneca the Younger said some 2000 years ago (in quote above). Buffett writes:

Much of what you become in life depends on whom you choose to admire and copy.

Makes you wonder about the influence of whom you have chosen to admire and imitate, doesn’t it? Can you name that person(s)? What are the salient characteristics you’ve chosen to admire?

Casting Vision and Inspiring the Workforce

In his article on leadership, Marcel Schwantes quotes Buffett who observed that a leader plays many roles:

The most important one is casting a vision and setting direction, and then inspiring the workforce to achieve their goals.

Integrity Above all Traits

I suppose this insight is not unique to Buffett, but one thing he “has repeatedly advised leaders over the years [is] to weigh integrity above all traits when building a company.” He once said:

We look for three things when we hire people:

We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity.

And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.

In contrast see “On Harassment and A-Holery.”


In “The Integrated Life” I quote Nicky Gumble who writes about the relationship between integrity and holiness:

Holiness is about living an integrated life, rather than a dis-integrated one. Holiness is where there is no difference between our public, private, and secret lives and no difference between what we profess and what we practice. Holiness is linked to wholeness. When God calls you to be holy, He is saying “be wholly mine.”

People want authenticity; we want to be authentic – or at least get away with passing for being authentic – but the truly authentic life is the integration of our public, private, and secret lives in such a way that demonstrates integrity.

Billy Graham said,

Integrity is the glue that holds our way of life together. We must constantly strive to keep our integrity intact. When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.

Who do You Chose to Admire and Imitate?

It is a question for everyone who wants to improve their world and lead in whatever sphere of influence you are given. Returning to Jesus’ words noted above, “whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” He is the one whom I chose to admire and imitate.

For more, see: Integration and Disintegration