Character counts in life. Or at least it used to! The never-ending litany of crises and scandals in business, politics, sports and the news media highlights the need for leaders who display character.
Without question, character is the most influential trait an effective leader can possess. This doesn’t mean other leadership competencies are less important, but rather that character is a mirror reflection of who an individual is, shaped from their responses and reactions to overall life experiences.
What Character Means
Character is defined as a combination of moral and ethical traits, personality traits, and values that enable leadership excellence. Warren Bennis PhD, in his book, On Becoming a Leader, states “Excellence starts with leaders of good and strong character who engage in the entire process of leadership. The first step is being a person of honorable character.”
Although there are numerous tenets to character, here are the top 5 that enable me, personally, to stay true to myself and be effective without compromise:
I believe in leading by intent rather than chance. If you lead by intent, your impact on others is demonstrated by intentionally modifying your followers’ attitudes or behaviors and controlling the degree of change in a person’s behavior or attitude as a result. If you lead by chance, you’re leading by autopilot, leaving your followers at the mercy of reckless decisions.
Over the years, I have learned that successful leadership involves the ability to understand the rhythm and timing in everyday situations. My leadership effectiveness depends on my acute awareness to sense the rhythm affecting any situation and being able to determine the right timing to make a move and when to stand still.
Response to Adversity
When confronted by adversity, you will likely do one of two things. You’ll disengage from it, not acknowledging its current and future affect, or you’ll view it as a “life skill”, a survival mechanism in improving motivation in response to certain situations.
Although the leadership journey can occasionally be exhausting and stressful, a leader’s character is tested, observed, and judged daily by how they respond to situations and challenges. Mentally strong leaders in whatever field they excel accept that they and they alone influence their own performance and shape their own character.
Character is not a fixed trait, but one that is constantly developing over time from several sources. Some leaders develop their character in the trenches of life experiences, while others learn it from a book that gives them knowledge, or guided by a coach or mentor. Here are two key ways of developing strong character:
- Learn how to walk in the other person’s shoes to influence others mindfully and intentionally. This means you step into their mental map of the world, gaining an appreciation of how they perceive a given situation.
- Shake up your routine to deliberately disrupt your pattern of behavior that represent the status quo in order to encounter new challenges.
How do you, and others, evaluate the character you exhibit as a leader? And does the character you exhibit inspire others toward progress, cooperation and achievement?
Why character counts in mentally strong leaders.
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Copyright 2017 Jennifer Touma Mindscape ǀ Mindscapemind.com