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Leadership Development Through Hardship



Leadership development has become very popular as organizations recognize having leadership capacity is important in beating out their competition. As Baby Boomers retire, many organizations are looking to develop millennial employees and they spend large amounts of money on training and development programs. Common leadership development methods include 360 feedback and active learning. Often a method that is overlooked is development through hardship. An example of a great leader who developed through hardship is Joseph from the Bible. Joseph was thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, and imprisoned when he was innocent. Joseph endured these hardships for many years before he became second in command to Pharaoh. From the life of Joseph, we learn that hardships can develop leaders in 3 key ways.


Hardships can humble the arrogant

Going through a hardship can show an individual their immaturity, and it can show them that they did not have all of the answers after all. Many times, hardship shows individuals that they cannot do it on their own, but they need a team surrounding them.


Hardships can develop compassion

After someone has gone through something really tough when they meet someone else going through that same hardship, they are likely to have compassion on that person and want to show them grace and mercy. This is a great quality for a leader to have. When a follower is going through a tough time it would mean so much to them for their leader to cut them a break and help them through it.

Hardships can develop integrity

Just like in the story of Joseph many hardships are not an individual’s fault, and the individual will have a choice to make. Will they return evil for evil, and act out, or will they choose the high road and develop integrity. What the individual chooses has much to say about their character and often times there are several people watching.


2020 was a hard year, we have all gone through hardship this last year. Instead of looking at it in a negative lens though, think about what that hardship taught you. That hardship is developing you into a leader that this generation is going to need as we move forward as a country and society.




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