When it comes to trust, one’s character plays a very important role in building that trust. Merriam-Webster defines character as one of the attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual. Everyone has traits that make up their character. The question is if it is a positive character that you should be proud of.
Orville and Wilbur Wright are the infamous brothers who carried out the first manned flight in 1903. The world was forever changed thanks to their contributions. When Wilbur died at the age of 45, his father wrote in his diary a note that shows the character that Wilbur possessed. His father never mentioned the flight, rather he focused on his son’s character.
May 30, 1912
This morning at 3:15, Wilbur passed away, aged 45 years, 1 month, and 14 days. A short life, full of consequences. An unfailing intellect, imperturbable temper, great self-reliance and as great modesty, seeing the right clearly, pursuing it steadily, he lived and died.
I worked with a guy one time that was out for himself alone. Everyone knew his character and that he was only concerned about himself. The reputation that one builds can tarnish someone who would otherwise have a positive outlook. Be careful, it will follow you.
Committed With Integrity
As a leader, building character takes time. Building a positive character only comes after commitment with integrity. A person of integrity is worthy of praise, but must show commitment to earn trust. On the contrast, a person who is only committed but lacks integrity is not someone people want to follow for the right reasons.
When you commit to your team, go all in. Show them that you are serious and be consistent. You will be surprised what it does for your effectiveness.
Character Requires Commitment
No matter who you are, your character speaks more about you than any amount of words ever will. To be a person with a high level of character, you must be consistent at the things that matter. Committing to being accessible, transparent, and caring for your team means doing so consistently.
Dictionary.com defines accessibility as “easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, or use”. As a leader, it is important that you are approachable, easy to communicate with, and available for your team members. Leaders that claim to have an “open door policy”, yet are either not available or make conversations difficult are not being accessible.
Merriam-Webster defines transparency as “honest and open, not secretive”. Leaders should strive to be transparent to build the relationship, but also to do the right thing. There are sensitive topics that cannot always be discussed publicly, being transparent as a leader could be as simple as stating, it is not something you can talk about or being upfront and providing the information once asked.
One of my favorite quotes says it best, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care“. Caring is that important to creating credibility, trust, and leadership potential. When you care about people, the people care about you. Once people care about you, they care about the mission.
Great Characters Have Integrity
Just as commitment is a part of character, integrity is balancing the other side. Showing that you are committed to something, especially your team, helps to build on the character you possess. Remaining a person of integrity will fortify your character and help build trust quicker.
Authenticity is about being your true self no matter what. A common definition of authenticity in the psychology domain means “living one’s life according to the needs of one’s inner being, rather than the demands of society“. The easiest way to define authenticity is being genuine and real in all things.
Leaders have a duty to be fair. Fairness does not mean the same thing as equal. Equal has to do with being the same. People are different and must be treated as unique beings. Being fair means taking different types of people and holding them to the same set of standards.
There are times that we cannot be free flowing with information as leaders. Complicated issues cause turmoil within organizations, but privacy laws, personnel issues, and other problems only complicate the issues further. Leaders do owe it to their teams not to lie about a situation, even if it means saying they can’t talk about something.
Being A Leader With Character
Being a leader is not about a position, title, or entitlement. Leadership is about making a difference in others lives. Positive influence requires a person of character. Worthy character at that.
This post recaps the components that make up character. But, character is only half of the makeup of trust. The character is based on who the person is, not what they know or their skillset. As a leader, remember that it is about the people, not the profits, product, or even service. Remembering the people, the rest will fall in line.
What About You?
Question: What are you going to do this week to be a leader of character? You can leave a comment by clicking here.