Leadership is about trust and trust is about character
With the release of the Lead Change Group’s new book, The Character Based-Leader, there is a lot of talk about the role of character in leadership and what it really means. As one of the book’s authors and editors, I’ve spent a significant amount of time reflecting on the meaning of character while reading each of the 21 authors’ chapters.
Clearly, defining character in a way everyone can agree on may be an elusive goal. Yet, when we talk about outcomes, everyone seems to be on the same page. We all know what a character-based leader does and how it affects people. Character-Based Leaders build trust. People want to enthusiastically join them in pursuing a goal. They help boost employee retention, customers satisfaction and profits. They get volunteers to get involved.
Maybe we don’t have to define character. We know that character is about what is inside of us. It’s what makes us tick, and how we see the world and see our role in it. It’s about why we make the choices we do. It’s about our principles, values and standards. It’s about who we really are. Each person has his or her own definition of what that means to them. All of this shapes our ability to lead.
The Role of Character in Leadership
Character in leadership is about our values and principles, how we see our role as a leader and our attitude toward those we want to lead. It doesn’t matter whether you are running a company, project or store, overseeing a community event, influencing a congregation, or helping your kids. Your attitude toward your team, group or flock influences what they do and what they think of you. People trust your character, not your title.
The following seven questions can help you reflect on the character you bring to your leadership role, what you see as your purpose for being a leader and how you see your role as a leader. One of the core concepts of The Character-Based Leader is that we need to make a choice to be a leader as opposed to seeing leadership as a task we perform as part of our job as a manager. Leadership is not a sub function of management. It is a completely separate and distinct role. When someone ask you what you do, do you first say “I am a leader” or do you mention your title and job?
Seven questions to learn more about your character and how it affects your ability to build trust
- Do you care enough about your people that you want them to win at work, at home and in life?
- Do you do what you say you will do, speak the truth and act with integrity?
- Do you feel a sense of accomplishment when your people receive recognition and awards?
- Do you encourage people to become leaders themselves and support them when they spread their leadership wings?
- When someone falls short, are you bothered by having to point this out to them, or do you look forward to an opportunity to help them develop and grow from this experience?
- When someone on your team puts you in an embarrassing situation, do you let them take the fall or do you have their back? Is it more about you or them?
- Why are you in a position or place that calls for you to lead? Is it about the joy of seeing people grow and succeed, or is it about seeing your name in lights?
Leadership is quite simple. It’s being the type of person people naturally want to work with, join with, team up with and get things done with. A leader who truly leads from character doesn’t need the title, authority or power because people will gladly join that leader in their pursuit of a goal. These people are going to be engaged, motivated and passionate about pursuing the goal because they trust you.
It all comes down to people doing things because they want to as opposed to being forced to. This is the true test of a leader and only leaders who lead from character can pass it.
When character leads the charge, everyone owns the goal.
Elevating the Importance of Leadership through Speeches, Development and Research
Don Shapiro is now pursuing a vision to help all executives and managers elevate the importance of leadership and building trust. Here are three ways he does that.
Speaking: He gives speeches and workshops on The Character-Based-Leader to help people achieve their full leadership potential.
Executive Efforts and Continuous Leadership Development: He helps executives discover why leadership effectiveness is the root cause behind customer satisfaction, employee retention, sales and profits so they make leadership a higher priority. Along with that, he advocates a “52 week a year leadership development effort” for those organizations that want to really boost their results.
Research: Finally, he is looking for companies to engage in research studies that can connect leadership character and effectiveness with employee retention, customer satisfaction, sales and profits. While many studies have been done that show some correlations, there is much more that needs to be done to finally show a clear casual link between leadership and results. This will also help companies develop new ways of measuring management performance that connect directly to leadership effectiveness.
Please email Don to schedule a phone chat about ways to boost and research leadership effectiveness.
The Character Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution…One Person at a Time, has just been released by the non-profit Lead Change Group. Don Shapiro, President of First Concepts Consultants, is one of the book’s 21 authors and one of its editors. The core premise of the book is that “leadership is about who you are, not your position or power.” It is available in both print and Kindle versions on Amazon.