The One Required Leadership Quality

Character

Character-education

Author Warren Bennis said, “Successful leadership is not about being tough or soft, sensitive or assertive, but about a set of attributes. First and foremost is character.” The required leadership quality all leaders must have is character. Those with good character live out their beliefs, values, and convictions. Making sure their attitude, behavior, and actions are in line with those areas. Good character is about consistently making good choices no matter who is watching or who will know about it. Failing to be a person of good character can cause you to fail in your leadership role and could negatively affect those around you. Here are 5 ways to have and maintain your character:

1. Lead yourself

The first and often hardest person you will ever lead is the person in the mirror, yourself. Leading yourself well positions you to make moral and ethical choices. When a leader fails to lead themselves they can fall prey to making the wrong choices, not aligned with good character. This can be especially true during crisis or turbulent times. Focus on leading yourself and the right choices will follow.

2. Chose never to compromise

Predetermine what you will do before you are faced with a choice or decision that could break your character. Knowing beforehand what you will do in times of temptation or trails can help you to make the right choices and not compromise on your personal beliefs, values, or convictions. It’s always easier to settle for yourself what you will never compromise on before you are faced with the decision.

3. Associate with the right people

Spend time with and around those who have a proven track record of good character. At the same time you should distance yourself from those with bad or questionable character. You will be positively influenced and have stronger character if the group you associate with the most has character.

4. Establish safeguards

Having character safeguards allows your character to be secure. You should have a system in place for if you begin to act out of good character. The best way for you to do this is to have people who closely see you work and who can hold you accountable for your actions and attitudes.

5. Set high personal standards

Businessman Ray Kroc said, “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” Your standards should be so high that you will never come remotely close to crossing the line of right and wrong. People should never question or be unclear about whether you are or have been making moral or ethical choices. They should always be able to see you are a person of unquestionable character. Leaders should also promptly and appropriately discipline any team member not being moral or ethical.

Questions: What would you add to the list? How do you maintain character in your life?

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  • Kari Scare

    A quote I read recently speaks to your overall point well. “Character reigns preeminent in determining potential.” (Laura Hildebrand, Seabiscuit) I’ve been spending a lot of mental time with this quote, and two points stick out to me. First, potential means very little without developing character. Second, encouraging others to develop their character and helping them do it is key to them developing their character. This second point is especially evident in the book, Seabiscuit. Additional food for thought.

    • Hi Kari,

      Great quote! Character is everything. We should lead with character and our good character will positively influence those around us. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.