Is character important? How much weight do you place on the traits of people in your life? When hiring for a position, is the focus only on expertise? Norman Schwarzkopf, United States Army General identified its importance when he stated “Ninety-nine percent of leadership failures are failures of character.” John C. Maxwell, leadership expert says “charisma gets you in the door, but character keeps you in the room.” Think about how working with someone you do not trust impacts productivity. Do you find yourself scrutinizing their work, motives, or suggestions to a greater degree than you do with someone you trust? How much additional time and stress are unnecessarily added to the project? Often we place too much emphasis on professional skills while dismissing the fundamental importance of character. Character matters. It is something you can work on, be intentional about, and choose to improve.
How do you begin to improve your character? First, identify your traits. This includes personal and professional traits. There is no separation, because it is who you are. What do you consider your strongest trait? Reflect on how it has helped or held you back in your personal and professional relationships. Professors James Kouzes and Barry Posner conducted over 25 years of research across six continents to determine the characteristics people are looking for in a leader. The top survey response, honesty. What traits are the most important to you in a leader? Review your list and determine which character trait you will commit to improve upon.
Focusing on and developing your character allows you to establish trust. It is the foundation of leadership, and you cannot ask or expect people to follow you if they don’t trust and respect you. Once built, you will be able to add value through your professional skills and experience, but not before trust is established. Be intentional about your character development and maximize your effectiveness as a leader today.
What is the most important trait in a leader? What is one way to move yourself to action to develop your character? Share your thoughts and experiences, join the conversation below.
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