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 Character is the essence of leadership

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TianHua
Staff Sergeant
Staff Sergeant


Number of posts : 456
Age : 24

PostSubject: Character is the essence of leadership   10th January 2009, 10:37

The central tent pole in our leadership metaphor is character. Our research shows that a person who receives low marks on character has absolutely no chance of being perceived as a great leader, especially in the long run. Leaders who lack character must constantly be on guard that people will discover the truth about them. Like the Hollywood set that looks real from one side, they live in constant danger of having the illusion of their character dispelled if others see behind the facade.

What are the key elements of strong personal character? Leaders with character follow through on commitments. They keep their word. They make decisions with the good of the organization in mind, rather than a personal agenda. These leaders gain respect by being open and transparent. In fact, the more people can see inside, the more highly regarded the leader will be.

Leaders with character treat others with respect. They don't “smile up and kick down.” The bellhop and the waitress get the same consideration as the CEO. Leaders with integrity look at others through a positive lens. They assume others have good intentions rather than bad. They look to collaborate rather than compete.

High-character leaders keep learning. They try new things and adjust rapidly to changing environments. They attempt to improve themselves constantly. They look for feedback and act on it.

Surely some must be wondering, “But can I improve my character? If so, how?” The answer might be surprising. Some believe the following chain of events is typical:

Character -> Attitudes -> Behavior

This sequence assumes you must first will your character into a new state; then your attitudes and behavior will follow. But the fact is that people work very hard to make their attitudes, and ultimately their character, conform to their behavior. If you successfully alter your behavior, there will be a remarkable transformation in attitudes and, eventually, character. In essence, we believe the following chain better maps reality:

Behavior -> Attitudes -> Character

We suggest the following steps to alter behaviors and ultimately character:

Always deliver: Be cautious in the commitments you make. Be careful not to overstate or overpromise what you can accomplish. Follow through. If you know you won't be able to keep a commitment, don't brush it under the rug. Admit it and reclarify intentions.

Be humble: Be willing to laugh at yourself. Don't flaunt your authority. Humility will make you approachable. It opens the door to building relationships.

Find a mirror: You need to find out how others perceive your character. This mirror may be a good internal mentor, a trusted colleague or friend, or an effective 360-degree feedback process. Without this self-critical perspective, it is impossible to exert strong influence on a work group.
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