What is virtue and why would an effective leader need this character trait?
First, what is virtue? The LDS Guide to the scriptures defines virtue as integrity and moral excellence, power and strength (Luke 8:46), or sexual purity (Moroni 9:9).
It should be obvious that a leader needs the traits of integrity, power, and strength, but what about moral excellence and sexual purity? What does that have to do with leadership? I'm sure we can find many examples of great leaders who lacked the ability to resist the inclinations of the natural man and succumbed to the appetites, desires and passions of the flesh. Certainly these examples are the exceptions and their inability to live a virtuous life only inhibited their potential leadership.
The reason this is true goes back to the core principle of my leadership pattern, "Leadership is Love in Action". The type of love we are talking about is charity (see trait #1). When we have Charity we have the type of love for others that God has for his children. If we have that kind of love, then we don't see others as objects to fill our selfish desires. When we view each other through the lens of love for our spiritual brothers and sisters, then our ability to lead with love is magnified. A virtuous heart makes this all possible.
There is great power and strength that comes to an individual who has a virtuous heart. Energy that would be spent on un-virtuous acts or attempting to hide a dark part of our life from others could be channeled into greater opportunities. As those who follow you look carefully they will see what kind of heart you have. A heart that is pure will inspire others to become better. After all, that is the outcome of great leadership.
Bishop H. David Burton said:
"Now is the time for us to join in rescuing and preserving that which is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.” As we allow virtue to garnish our thoughts unceasingly and we cultivate virtuous traits in our personal lives, our communities and institutions will be improved, our children and families will be strengthened, and faith and integrity will bless individual lives." (H. David Burton, "Let Virtue Garnish Your Thoughts", October 2009 LDS General Conference)
For additional study see: Luke 8:46, Moroni 9:9, Ruth 3:11, Psalms 24:3-4, Proverbs 12:4, Proverbs 31:10-31, 2 Peter 1:5, D&C 4:6, Alma 31:5, D&C 121:45, Article of Faith 13, Philippians; 4:8