The Genesis of Leadership – Joseph

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This is a post by Cory Godwin who writes about servant leadership insights at iLead/iServe.com. Check out his site and connect with him on Twitter.


Each Thursday morning, I attend a small men’s leadership group at Destiny Worship Center, named “Return On Investment”. This group of high performing Christian leaders, joins together to share God’s word, encourage one another, sharpen their skills and increase their capacity to lead.

During a recent meeting we considered the leadership characteristics of Joseph.  The full story of Joseph can be found in the Old Testament in Genesis, and although you may have read it any times, it’s worth reviewing again from a leadership perspective.

Throughout time and regardless of geography or cultural differences, leadership remains the same. What made a leader effective then, does so today; despite the rapid pace of change, innovation, and challenges that our modern world presents.

Here are a few of the leadership characteristics that Joseph demonstrated:

He led wherever he was – Beginning in his own family, as a child he was a leader whose behavior and actions caught the eye of his father earning him favor. After being sold by his brothers into slavery, he worked diligently and become the leader of the house, second only to his master Potiphar. When jailed, due to the false accusations of Potiphar’s wife, the Warden put him in charge of leading the other prisoners. Ultimately, Pharaoh had such a high regard for Joseph, he practically making him his equal. Joseph was never #1, throughout his leadership journey. He was never in the most prominent role, or held the highest title, bust served faithfully and loyally.

Vision and Strategy – Joseph was dreamer, who had a gift for defining a compelling vision for the future. He was a planner, instructing the officials to prepare for a famine, even though it was years away, gathering up food to store up, even during the seven years of “plenty.

Integrity and Character– Joseph had character and integrity. He was honest. He was tempted at multiple times, and he resisted.

Humble- The power and prestige of his position working for Pharaoh never changed him.

Disciplined– Joseph had the proper long-term perspective, even while in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

Faithfulness- While in jail and throughout all of the turmoil, Joseph remained faithful to God and never wavered from his commitment to follow Him.

Grace- Joseph showed grace and mercy to his brothers, even though they had sold him into slavery.

Competence- He did his job with excellence. Whether as a servant, or the interpreter of Pharaoh’s dream, or as the manager of the family sheep flock.

Wise– Joseph was wise beyond his years. He was 30 when he stepped in to help set up Egypt for the famine, and demonstrated a seasoned perspective with decision after decision.

Above all of the leadership characteristics and others not included in this post, the most important attribute of Joseph, was that “God was with him”. In times of great adversity, he did view it as having his faith tried, but an opportunity to put his faith to work. As of his faithfulness and closeness to God:

  • He succeeded in his endeavor
  • He had a good reputation
  • God prospered him to grow and increase
  • He was favored and the object of kind regard
  • He experienced kindness from others, especially those he chose to serve

Joseph understood that the only reason we get to lead, succeed or prosper is to honor God and to be His witness. When you or your team achieve something remarkable, have you stop to consider how you might leverage that accomplishment or influence to honor God?

Question: What other traits should Godly leaders have?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Cory Godwin

    I am so appreciative of this opportunity to share and connect with Dan’s community and respect the great effort he is leading to grow leaders.

    • I’m glad to feature you on my blog. Thank you for writing a fantastic post!

  • Great post Cory. Everywhere Joseph found himself, he focused on serving others. The best leaders are always others-focused.

    • Cory Godwin

      Beyond You Leadership. Thanks Jimmy for connecting me to this community.

  • Corey that’s a pretty good list you have. Joseph is such a great example for us to follow. One other trait that you can see in the life of Joseph is boldness. Joseph wasn’t afraid to talk with the Pharaoh even though the interpretation of his dream was bad news.

    • Cory Godwin

      Candor is like superpowers these days. Large corporations are actually hiring people solely to provide critical analysis. Be nice if everyone would just be open and honest in all conversations. Thanks for reading.

  • You are right on point with Joseph’s Leadership skills. I think just having that passion to share God’s word with others is a talent within itself, So powerful.

    • Cory Godwin

      Thanks. A talent indeed and a command. Serve Others!

  • One of my favorite Bible stories. One of the most compelling and heart wrenching parts in all of scripture; when Joseph breaks down in tears by himself… alone, just like he’d been his entire life since his brother’s sold him. And yet the heart of God was with him to forgive.

    Although it falls under your “Faithfulness” heading, it points to the characteristic of perseverance that is a must for any leader I believe.

    Nice post, sir.

    • Cory Godwin

      Thank you! Leaders are dreamers who must be resilient and Joseph is a great example for us. Serve Others!

  • Love how you weaved the story of Joseph to talk about leadership and leadership attributes.

    • Cory Godwin

      Thanks Paul. Glad you enjoyed it. Serve Others!

  • These are some great keys for leadership Cory!

    • Glad you enjoyed them Kimanzi :)

    • Cory Godwin

      Thank you! Glad to have the privilege to share.