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The Importance of Character in Leadership

Over the past few months, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with character in leadership. One of the key books that has framed by thinking about this topic is Myles Munroe’s Power of Character in Leadership. Although I’ve attended numerous higher education leadership training programs, I admit that character is a topic that I’ve never heard covered. As a Christian, I obtain some teaching about character and moral development within ministries that I have attended. From a professional perspective, it seems that the topic of character is perceived to be too “preachy” in traditional workplaces. For this reason, I want to present lessons that I have learned about character development and from Dr. Munroe’s teachings.

blog post character 2015

(1) You lead with your life.

This means that no matter how charismatic you are, if you say one thing, and do another, your character is questioned and questionable. For many people, individuals don’t realize that actions and words may differ until they work intimately with someone. In our society, it’s easy to agree with wrong actions when money or some other reward is attached to it.

I found this out via my collaboration with a public figure. This person has worked with Oprah Winfrey and is visible in numerous ways. To the outside world, his words are truth, but the people closest to him know that he alienates people and is somewhat selfish, particularly if he perceives that he is not getting the biggest chunk out of a collaboration. Despite the way that he treats and discards people who challenge him, these people remain connected to him.

Initially, I was upset. I thought that if our team banded together and called out his crazy behavior, he would stop being such a bully. I realized, however, that the people who know about him will never confront him about his weaknesses. As a result, they continue to remain connected to him with (possibly real?) hopes that he will open big doors for them. My study on character, however, predicts that he will not change. If he is not called out by someone, he will continue to treat people the same way, and this is very sad.

(2) You are consistent regardless of context.

Whether it is Monday or Sunday, at your core, you are the same. This means that people know who you are regardless of context. If you believe something, this is evident in what you do and what you say.

I believe that one of the reasons that so many people adore the Kardashians is that you know what they are about- glamour, fame, and money. They are not trying to be preachers or school teachers. They are celebrities, and everything that they do reflects that.

Character is the same way. People want that same predictability in their professional lives. When a decision needs to be made, people know you are either going to be a leader who is fair or unfair, transparent or closed. You are who people perceive you to be, and this perception is based on your character.

(3) Principles mean more to you than being popular.

We live in a society where the currency of acceptance is social media likes. The more Facebook likes you have have, the more people agree with what you have said. To many people this then connects back to one’s value as a person. The same applies to Twitter or Instagram followers. The greater the number of people who follow you, the greater the “influence” that you have over others.

What if you chose to post something that challenged the majority of your followers’ opinions? I did this very thing by challenging the actions of members at a diversity team at my university. Although many minorities wanted to support a women of color in leadership because there are so few of us at the university, this woman did little to no work (in my opinion). She was a bully who dictated to others and who was not accountable for her actions. As a result, people inside and outside of her organization