Character. Why do I want to address this today?
It seems that we are increasingly seeing character as the illegitimate stepchild of leadership. An inconvenient gadfly that we swat away in favor of quick wins, achievement of personal agendas, ego complacency, material gain, increased status.
Character matters. We need to develop it in ourselves and demand it of our leaders wherever we find them.
Character isn’t an accessory to tack on to leadership presence and behavior. It is the backbone of great leadership. You can’t call yourself a great or even good leader if you lack solid character. The best leaders don’t drive sustainable good by making decisions that serve the few or themselves and disregard the very purpose for which they serve. I too often hear comments like this: Well who cares whether he or she lied, or insulted people or behaved disgustingly or speaks in an ignorant way? Look at the increased bottom line! Look at the strong shareholder value! Hey there’s more money in my pocket! Look at the economy! What I hear from these statements is: As long as I’ve got mine, who cares about character? Who cares who gets hurt, marginalized or scammed? Who cares if the leader lies, betrays and is unethical?
A lack of character in ourselves and our leaders will corrode any company, community or society in the end and it will be painful along the way.
What makes for good character? I see the qualities of good character as a set of values that knows no gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, or class. These qualities apply across the board and, to me, are timeless and timely. Integrity, honor, credibility, courage, empathy, grace, accountability, service to others first. Character forms over time It is the flag we plant that expresses who we are, what we stand for and what we stand by. Character is that voice that tugs at your mind as you’re making decisions and asks you inconvenient questions. Does what you’re thinking synch up with your purpose? Who does it serve? Why are you really doing this? What are you afraid of? People of good character listen to that voice and answer those and other questions honestly. People of good character also challenge leaders even if they’re afraid to do so.
Thing is, leaders of solid character don’t mind being challenged because at the end of the day, a person of good character wants to do the right thing for the right reasons.
Character Matters. I hope this video and article start a conversation and awareness about this very critical human quality that is losing its currency by being seen as a “nice to have” NOT a must have.
Character Matters: We must develop it in ourselves and actively demand it of our leaders…wherever we find them.