The issue of competence as against character is one of the fearest arguments in Leadership cycles. The argument usually is about which of the two qualities are the most critical trait for a leader? Does a leader’s competence comes first or vice versa?

This week, with the untimely resignation of the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, one cannot fathom but ask, what caused his untimely political demise? Was it a matter of incompetence, character, or both?

I would love to hear your thought on this matter.

Competence involves a leader’s qualifications, skills, and ability to get results.

On my account, Boris Johnson has demonstrated a string competency approach to leadership.

On the other hand,

character has to do with a leader’s integrity, attitude, honesty, discipline, and more.

In 2019, Boris secured a crushing victory over Labour, winning 364 of the 650 seats in the house of Commons. He successfully led this country to secure an excellent Brexit deal from the European Union after Theresa May resigned from her post as the then Prime Minister. During the Covid 19 pandemic, we can credit him for steering the country through such a crisis. The way and manner in which he handled the Ukraine Crisis and more depict his competence.

However, these successes above were not enough to keep him at No 10. I believe Boris’s untimely resignation can be attributed to his character in office and not his competence.

For instance, his integrity and attitude were questionable when it was discovered that while the country was on lockdown during the height of Covid 19, he was hosting a party at Downing Street. As a result, for the first time in UK politics, the Police were investigating the government.

What broke the camel’s back was when he promoted the Conservative lawmaker Chris Pincher after complaints of sexual misconduct against him. A spokesman for Johnson said he was aware of some allegations against the former whip Chris Pincher.

This further led to questions about the former Prime Minister’s attitude and integrity, leading to about 60 of his ministers resigning in 48 hours. This triggered his resignation and the possible destruction of his legacy.

In conclusion, a good leader needs both competence and character, but to be honest, a leader’s character is more important than his competence. Leadership always says that;

“Your competence will get you a job, but your character will determine how long you stay on the job. It is your attitude (character) that will always determine your altitude.”

My advice to future leaders is this: clearly, the ideal combination is high competence and high character but if you have to choose when it comes to a leader, we’d advise you to vote for character.

Kofi Amoateng
(Life Coach, Entrepreneur, Author & Pastor)

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6 thoughts on “A LEADER’S COMPETENCE VRS CHARACTER (The Case of Boris Johnson)”

  1. Great piece, Sir. To become an outstanding leader you need both traits, you have to definitely lead by example! Wrong example, shall move you out. People will definitely capitalise on the mistakes either character or competence . The British people are ready to remove the character speck from the eye of the next PM who was part of Boris’ call for resignation.

  2. Thanks Mr. Kofi. Thanks for sharing your perspective of Leadership. I agree with you that character is very important. If a leader can balance competence & character thats good.
    Mostly leaders judge themselve by their intentions & forget that others judge them by their performance (character).
    The more you improve the quality of your character, products & services the higher the quality of people & resources you attract.


  3. Pastor you have nailed it well , May God bless you for such a nice enlightenment .
    Character and integrity are inseparable.
    As a leader you must portray an exemplarily life and what Boris did by breaking the covid rules and other several allegations levelled against him put his integrity into question. The current economic hardship in Uk also raises another question of his incompetence, Although there is global economic Grimness but the UK citizens thought that he is not adopting any good policies to curb down the hardship. Lastly his attitude and dishonest towards his party executives and even his own appointees was too hostile and pugnacious. For instance most of his party executives and about 54 ministers resigned which also made him unpopular.
    In all, for a person to become a good leader He must
    portray all the qualities Pastor just Mentioned above, that’s Competence, character, attitude Honesty and discipline.

  4. Wonderful.
    Great piece Sir .
    It’s amazing how society and our educational systems have been structured to train us to be competent and career minded but very little has been done to enlighten us on the need to build a good character.
    False balance is indeed an abomination.

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