"being all you can be" within the bounds of doing what is right for your
organization. To reach excellence you must first be a leader of good
character. You must do everything you are supposed to do. Organizations
will not achieve excellence by figuring out where it wants to go, then
having leaders do whatever they have to in order to get the job done,
and then hope their leaders acted with good character. This type of
thinking is backwards. Pursuing excellence should not be confused with
accomplishing a job or task. When you do planning, you do it by
backwards planning. But you do not achieve excellence by backwards
planning. Excellence starts with leaders of good and strong character
who engage in the entire process of leadership. And the first process is
being a person of honorable character.
Character develops over time. Many think that much of a person's
character is formed early in life. However, we do not know exactly how
much or how early character develops. But, it is safe to claim that
character does not change quickly. A person's observable behavior is an
indication of her character. This behavior can be strong or weak, good
or bad. A person with strong character shows drive, energy,
determination, self-discipline, willpower, and nerve. She sees what she
wants and goes after it. She attracts followers. On the other hand, a
person with weak character shows none of these traits. She does not know
what she wants. Her traits are disorganized, she vacillates and is
inconsistent. She will attract no followers.
A strong person can be good or bad. A gang leader is an example of a
strong person with a bad character, while an outstanding community
leader is one with both strong and good characteristics. An organization
needs leaders with both strong and good characteristics, people who will
guide them to the future and show that they can be trusted.
Especially in bad situations, good leaders are firm in what their doing,
they are also persistent in what they do. They are just like the good
captains in every ship the sail; They would be the one when during the
bad storm, who would get the ship up to the proper position, and ensure
that the ship sailed it's way home, and also no one, even the mediocre
To be an effective leader, your followers must have trust in you and
they need to be sold on your vision. Korn-Ferry International, an
executive search company, performed a survey on what organizations want
from their leaders. The respondents said they wanted people who were
both ethical and who convey a strong vision of the future. In any
organization, a leader's actions set the pace. This behavior wins trust,
loyalty, and ensures the organization's continued vitality. One of the
ways to build trust is to display a good sense of character composed of
beliefs, values, skills, and traits.
Beliefs are what we hold dear to us and are rooted deeply within us.
They could be assumptions or convictions that you hold true regarding
people, concepts, or things. They could be the beliefs about life,
death, religion, what is good, what is bad, what is human nature, etc.
Values are attitudes about the worth of people, concepts, or things. For
example, you might value a good car, home, friendship, personal comfort,
or relatives. Values are important as they influence a person's behavior
to weigh the importance of alternatives. For example, you might value
friends more than privacy, while others might be the opposite.
Skills are the knowledge and abilities that a person gains throughout
life. The ability to learn a new skill varies with each individual. Some
skills come almost naturally, while others come only by complete
devotion to study and practice.
Traits are distinguishing qualities or characteristics of a person,
while character is the sum total of these traits. There are hundreds of
personality traits, far too many to be discussed here. Instead, we will
focus on a few that are crucial for a leader. The more of these you
display as a leader, the more your followers will believe and trust in you.
Traits of a Good Leader:
Honest — Display sincerity, integrity, and candor in all your actions.
Deceptive behavior will not inspire trust.
Competent — Base your actions on reason and moral principles. Do not
make decisions based on childlike emotional desires or feelings.
Forward-looking — Set goals and have a vision of the future. The vision
must be owned throughout the organization. Effective leaders envision
what they want and how to get it. They habitually pick priorities
stemming from their basic values.
Inspiring — Display confidence in all that you do. By showing endurance
in mental, physical, and spiritual stamina, you will inspire others to
reach for new heights. Take charge when necessary.
Intelligent — Read, study, and seek challenging assignments.
Fair-minded — Show fair treatment to all people. Prejudice is the enemy
of justice. Display empathy by being sensitive to the feelings, values,
interests, and well-being of others.
Broad-minded — Seek out diversity.
Courageous — Have the perseverance to accomplish a goal, regardless of
the seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Display a confident calmness
when under stress.
Straightforward — Use sound judgment to make a good decisions at the
Imaginative — Make timely and appropriate changes in your thinking,
plans, and methods. Show creativity by thinking of new and better goals,
ideas, and solutions to problems. Be innovative!