Updated: Apr 7, 2022
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“Character extends the longevity of a leader. Spend your life protecting the longevity of your character.” – Myles Munroe
I am always researching leaders who remain at the top of their fields for decades. Whenever studying how they stay at the top of their game for so long, I find similarities among all of them. Each being different in skills, personalities, and methodologies, possess qualities that keep them current and influential.
What are some key components to a leaders’ longevity?
I say “some” key components because there are more; the following I find are common among all lifelong leaders who remain current, and at the top of their game.
There can be no doubt that character tops the list of components when it comes to staying power. John C. Maxwell notes that “Character is the combination of a person’s values, beliefs, and actions. Simply put, character is walking the walk and talking the talk.” (1)
Some studies show that a spirit of excellence is often present within organizations under Leaders’ influence with commendable character. Such “character-driven” leaders inspire excellence without demanding it. Modeling respect, humility, transparency, and good ethics inspire and encourage co-workers to exceed expectations without requiring it.
My observations of leaders with impeccable character have been the standard of excellence they hold themselves to; taking responsibility for their actions demonstrates accountability. By their example, I’m inspired and encouraged by their productivity and ease of relatability to those around them.
The reward consistency is trust which leads to influence.” – JSP
Consistency isn’t a one and done event. It’s a lifestyle. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines consistency as “marked by harmony, regularity, or steady continuity: free from variation or contradiction.” What you see is what you get all the time; it’s the dependability that makes such leaders valuable.
Leaders, who arrive on time, as promised, can be counted on; working after hours to meet a deadline as agreed is discipline. When you keep your word, those who depend on you develop increased trust. Stephen M.R. Covey says, “Trust is equal parts character and competence… You can look at any leadership failure, and it’s always a failure of one or the other.” Learning from our failures helps to keep us at the top of our game.
“Focus on competence, not perfection, when striving for excellence.” Maria Connolly
Competence speaks of your ability to do things well, making you a good fit for the position. Your productivity demonstrates your ability as a leader. Highly competent leaders tend to pursue excellence. Former NFL Head Coach Vince Lombardi said, “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”
When you possess the necessary competencies to produce the wins your organization is looking for, you bring a depth of skill to the table that your team members will want to emulate. High levels of productivity make everyone look good. To raise the expectations of your team, make excellence a habit by focusing on competence, the positive outcomes speak for themselves.
In his book “The Speed of Trust,” Stephen M.R. Covey notes, “Above all, success in business requires two things: a winning competitive strategy, and superb organizational execution. Distrust is the enemy of both. I submit that while high trust won’t necessarily rescue a poor strategy, low trust will almost always derail a good one.”
If I trust you, I can work with you. The fact that people buy into you before they buy into your vision is actual because of trust. There’s a peace of mind that comes with trusted leaders that enables them to develop highly effective teams.
Monica Patrick writes, “It’s a matter of trust, leadership must be trusted to make the smartest decisions and do the right thing, especially in difficult conditions. Trust is achieved by demonstrating competence and through strong character. Hiring executives must believe they can trust the leader as must employees who follow him or her.* Once a leader’s character is proven untrustworthy, their* ability to lead will diminish. Keeping leaders who have poor character and can’t be trusted will diminish morale.” *Italics mine
(1) “Developing the Leader Within You 2.0” by John C. Maxwell
*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co.***