If I were to ask you to think of the most valuable tool you have as a leader, what would you say? I think many leaders would say their most valuable tool is their team or their knowledge in leading their team.
I think there’s something more important than either of those… Or, quite frankly, any other leadership tool at your disposal. It’s a tool you probably don’t think about but you should.
Your most valuable leadership tool is your character.
Why Character Matters In Leadership
Bob Burg became well known for his famous quote (from the book Endless Referrals): All things being equal, people do business with and refer business to people they know, like, and trust.
Think about the quote for a minute. People will do business with people they
- Number One: Know
- Number Two: Like
- Number Three: Trust
Each of these reasons for doing business with someone is a part of your character. People can’t know you if they don’t know your true character. If you’re fooling people, they don’t know you.
The next part of Bob Burg’s quote says people will do business with people they like. This one may be able to get by the character idea but I don’t think so. Can you really like someone if they lack character? I think not.
The last part of the quote talks about trust. You can’t trust someone who doesn’t have a good character. You will never know when or if they will backstab you.
Because of these three key areas of business, character matters. You have to build a good character and keep it. You can’t say you have a good character. You like out good character.
How To Build Your Character
Building and creating a good character may seem difficult. Especially if you’ve struggled with honesty, integrity, and other character qualities.
But it can be done. You can build your character. You can become known as someone who lives out his values. Or maybe you need to rebuild your character. You can do this as well.
I love the following Jim Rohn quote. It gives me hope that my character isn’t static. If I mess up or haven’t arrived yet, I can still change my character. I can fix what I’ve broken.
Character isn’t something you were born with and can’t change, like your fingerprints. It’s something you weren’t born with and must take responsibility for forming.
To build (or rebuild) your character:
Take responsibility for your actions:
But Bill! This wasn’t my fault. I had all the paperwork in order. The deal was done. We were ready to move. It wasn’t my fault.
We’ve all heard or given excuses for something before, much like the above. We’ve all missed the mark and something went wrong.
The question isn’t whether or not you’re going to screw up. The question is whether or not you’re going to take responsibility for your actions.
Character requires you to take responsibility for your actions. Whether or not your actions were the direct cause for something going wrong, you have to be willing to own up to mistakes or delays.
Be willing to say: It’s okay. I own this. I messed up. But we’re moving forward and we’re going to get this done.
Create regular disciplines in your life:
People with good character are people who have great discipline in their lives. They choose to do what is right even when doing what is right isn’t easy.
Discipline creates structure in your life. Because of your discipline, you know what it takes to stay strong. Your discipline will create the guideposts to the things you say yes or no to.
If you struggle with discipline, you may waffle. You may choose to take the easy route. Discipline doesn’t allow you to do this. Discipline makes it easier to make the right choice.
People with character are often some of the most generous people you will ever meet. This is because people with character know they’re not here only for themselves. They were put on this earth to bless and grow others.
Are you being generous? It’s not only a monetary generosity we’re looking for here. Generosity may be giving of your time, money, or energy.
People with character are always looking for ways to give back. A few areas you may be able to be generous in are volunteering in your local youth group, giving a tip to a waitress who did a great job, or working with Habitat For Humanity and helping to build a new house.
To be a man of character, you have to be honest. You can’t lie to or deceive people.
Men of character know they have to be honest with those they interact with. They have to tell the truth in a loving and gentle way. They have to make sure they’re not dishonest.
These are the building blocks of character. There are many more things you will have to do to fully build your character but these are where you can start. Begin working on taking responsibility, creating disciplines, being honest, and being generous.