MP Message / Thought Leadership

Leadership Excellence: Character

MP MessageToday, I’d like to continue discussing Pat Williams’ book, Leadership Excellence: the Seven Sides of Leadership for the 21st Century, covering the fourth side of leadership:

Character. “Some define character as simply aspiring to high ideals and standards. I disagree. Many people have lofty aspirations. Unfortunately, aspiring isn’t enough. You must also have the strength of commitment and sacrifice to adhere to those standards and ideals in good times AND bad.” – the late Bill Walsh, 49ers coach

The wonderful thing about character is that it is one of the few things in life that no one will ever be able to forcefully take away from you. Your choices are your own. And what is even more interesting is that your TRUE character is revealed mostly when you are in times of being tested. Pressure or temptation can reveal sides of us we may not want to admit we have, or conversely, allow us to rise to the occasion and be the leader we are meant to be. Here are a few traits to describe “character,” as outlined in the book:

  • Integrity: “Honesty with a Little Oomph” – ‘As John Wooden once wrote: “You can be as honest as the day is long and still be short on character. How? You can be honest and selfish, honest and undisciplined, honest and inconsistent, honest and disrespectful, honest and lazy….There’s more to character than just being honest.”’
  • Diligence: “If You’re Lazy, Stay Away” – “Leaders of character work hard. They have a strong work ethic.”
  • Self-Control: “The Hardest Person to Lead is Yourself” – “If you want to achieve great things, if you want to turn your leadership vision into reality, you must be a person of self-control… also known as self-discipline…” Your goal as a leader is to motivate yourself and your team to be disciplined from within.
  • Perseverance: “It’s a League Rule” – “When the shepherd falls, the sheep scatter. As the shepherd of your organization, you’ve got to keep going, no matter what. You’ve got to outlast any trial of adversity that comes your way.”
  • Responsibility: “The Rule of the River” – “Each raft holds six or eight people…. If someone got thrown from the raft, all attention must be directed toward rescuing that person… but that person must be active in his own rescue…” Every person on at team must know and execute their assignment, and it is the leader who is responsible for make their roles clear and executable.
  • Humility: “Absence of Arrogance” – “The arrogance that so often comes with promotion and success inevitably begins their downfall. The antidote to this syndrome is a commitment to humility, to maintaining a humble spirit.”

Leaders who possess character as defined in the above are the great leaders with longevity and a loyal following. Strive to be that leader of character… for your staff, your clients, your family and your community. But most importantly… for yourself.

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