“Knowledge will give you power, but character earns respect.”
— Bruce Lee
We live in uncertain times; economies are in a state of flux, and businesses, great and small, are navigating the global reconstruction of the workplace and the massive shift in redefining leader/employee relationships.
Character built on commendable core values and transparency is always in demand, more so during seasons of uncertainty.
Good character builds trust: both are necessary for successful living
I believe trust is foundational to all human relationships, whether on a personal or business level, nothing much of lasting value happens without it.
Would you do business with an organization you couldn’t trust or trust your investments to firms led by leaders with questionable character? I’m sure your answer is a resounding no!
Yet, no society survives without the exchange of ideas, values, and meaningful conversations on a friendly or personal level. Without a sufficient level of trust, society as we know it would collapse. Hence, the need for good character.
Karen S. Cook, Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, observes, “Trust plays a pervasive role in social affairs, even sustaining acts of cooperation among strangers who have no control over each other’s actions. But the full importance of trust is rarely acknowledged until it begins to break down, threatening the stability of social relationships once taken for granted.” (1)
John C. Maxwell says, “Character and good values make trust possible. And trust makes leadership possible. Whenever you lead people, it’s as if they consent to take a journey with you. The way that trip is going to turnout is predicted by your character. Because no one enjoys spending time with someone they don’t trust.
1. Character Communicates Consistency
“Leaders without inner strength can’t be counted on day after day because their ability to perform changes constantly. NBA great Jerry West commented, “You can’t get too much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” If your people don’t know what to expect from you as a leader, at some point, they won’t look to you for leadership.
2. Character Communicates Potential
No man can climb out beyond the limitations of his own character.” - John Morley
Poor character is like a time bomb ticking away. It’s only a matter of time before it blows up a person’s ability to perform and the capacity to lead. Why? Because people with weak character are not trustworthy, and trust is the foundation of leadership.
When leaders have strong character, people trust them, and they trust in their ability to release their potential. That not only gives their followers hope for the future, but it also promotes a strong belief in themselves and their organization.
3. Character Communicates Respect
When you don’t have character within, you can’t earn respect without. And respect is absolutely essential for lasting leadership. How do leaders earn respect?
By making tough decisions,
By admitting their mistakes,
By putting what’s best for their followers and the organization ahead of their personal agendas. Respect is earned on difficult ground.” (2)
R. C. Samsel wisely states, “Character is the foundation stone upon which one must build to win respect. Just as no worthy building can be erected on a weak foundation, so no lasting reputation worthy of respect can be built on a weak character. Without character, all effort to attain dignity is superficial, and results are sure to be disappointing.”
(1) “Trust in Society” – Karen S. Cook https://bit.ly/3UeBsDK
(2) The Law of Solid Ground – The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership (25th Anniversary edition) by John C. Maxwell
*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co. ***