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Good Character; Don't Try Leading Without It

If you are a highly skilled visionary leader, can you be an asset to your company without valuing good character?

Is it possible to add value to others while lacking good character?

John Adair remarks, “The value you add comes from the values you hold.”

Warren Bennis observes, “Successful leadership is not about being tough or soft, sensitive, or assertive, but about a set of attributes. First and foremost is character.”

Our character directly impacts our interactions with people. Character defines us; it’s who we are. Moral qualities such as honesty, loyalty, and self-discipline dictate how we think, behave and influence others; this is why character is foundational to good leadership.

Leadership, Character, and Emotional Intelligence

“Personal Character Development Precedes Developing People of Character.”

Business Strategy Consultant Ken Vaughan says, “Character and emotional intelligence can be considered as two layers of our leadership capability, the two layers that are foundational to our leadership effectiveness.

Character can be defined as the virtues, values, and traits that underlie our thoughts and actions. Emotional intelligence can be defined as the awareness and management of emotions, both our own and others, to build positive relationships.” (1)

Leaders with impeccable character can be trusted because they can be counted on to deliver; this is why such leaders develop cultures with high standards of excellence.

  • Character speaks to our core convictions; it’s what we hold in our hearts to be true. If we lack integrity, we cannot connect with others on a deeper level.

  • Many leaders attempt to lead their teams on the strength of their personality; they may possess a high degree of likability; however, what they lack in character will eventually undermine their relationships and leadership.

  • I believe that “as a leader if you continue building on personality, gifts, and talents, instead of good character, you risk resorting to manipulation to secure the outcomes you seek.”

Good Values Good Character and Connecting From the Heart

Have you ever worked with people possessing high levels of likability and felt uneasy around them? Connecting on a deeper level requires more than personality alone. The law of connection says, “Leaders will touch a heart before they ask for a hand.”

Adopting the golden rule, “treat others as you wish to be treated yourself,” will cause you to develop deeper business relationships on a solid foundation that will last for years.

Hold Yourself Accountable

  • Nothing keeps people together like personal and mutual accountability.

  • Self-awareness allows us the vulnerability to make ourselves accountable to each other.

  • Partnerships become profitable by accepting responsibilities, managing expectations, and measuring our responses to positive and negative outcomes.

Be Reliable

Harold S. Geneen says, “Facts from paper are not the same as facts from people. The reliability of the people giving you the facts is as important as the facts themselves. Let the fact of the matter be your history of reliability.”

  • Being consistently reliable builds trust

  • Our word must be our bond

  • Integrity produces reliability

  • Relationships thrive wherever confidence abounds

Become Respectable

  • Being respectful resonates with people

  • Developing character builds self-respect

  • Respecting others creates respectability

  • People are validated and motivated when they feel respected

In Conclusion, As leaders, we are responsible for developing the best in others; as role models, we must understand they will emulate our habits. Bernard Montgomery says, “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.”

End Notes

(1) Ken Vaughan The Link Between Character and Emotional Intelligence

*** This article was authored by John Picarello, Chief Leadership Officer at Lions Pride Leadership Co. ***

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