The 13 Qualities That Make Up CharacterApr 30th, 2010 | By admin | Category: Human Resources, Leadership
Most people agree that character is important, and it is crucial for a contagious leader. Character must be cultivated, this is, we must make it a habit to make responsible choices about how we do things, not just about what we do.
However, most people can identify character, but not define it, and no one can teach what they can’t define; no one can model something they are unable to describe.
When Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every great institution is the lengthened shadow of a single man. His character determines the character of the organization” he got it right. Managers know that employees with character will skyrocket business to success, and they must understand what they should look for to identify potential contagious leaders.
Character is the sum of 13 qualities that cannot be separated, because all of them are equally important and influential:
- Attitude – It drives everything, it must be positive and action oriented, always declaring that anything can be done. Contagious leaders have contagious attitudes. It is a choice, you can decide to have a contagious attitude or a contained attitude, and no matter which one you choose the people around you will follow.
- Authenticity – Being authentic is to know, and to stay true, to who you are, not to what we pretend to be or what others want us to be. Many executives have been playing roles for so long that they have forgotten who they are; many are tired of being what their companies force them to be. Pretending to be someone you’re not can put so much stress on your performance that it ends up bringing you down.
- Contribution – Contagious leaders aim to make everything better. They make a difference everywhere they are, their community, their family, their company, their church, and in the lives of the people they come in contact with. People respond to those who, from the heart, are there to make a difference.
- Commitment – Contagious leaders make profound commitments. When they are in, they are in for good, and when things gets tough, they look for ways to make it better, not for a way out.
- Determination – Contagious leaders never give up, in the face of adversity; they become more determined to succeed. They go deep, look for solutions, get creative, and go “outside the box”. In a society dominated by giving up when things get rough, a model of determination, a contagious leader, influences profoundly everything and everyone around them.
- Discipline – Very often success is a matter of discipline. Discipline is necessary to get things done; it is the raw material for greatness.
- Drive – The drive that contagious leaders show is very different from determination or discipline. It is something that lives deep inside of them. This drive makes you get up every morning to go to your job, no matter what it is. Drive goes beyond money as a motivator. In many cases, people think that they want the money, while in reality they are truly looking for the feelings and experiences that this money can give them access to. It can be learning, contributing, sharing, loving, etc., everyone has to identify and understand what drives his or her behavior to be free and authentic.
- Embracing change – Contagious leaders embrace and participate in change; some even prompt it. If there is something you can count on in life is change; it is a waste of energy to fight it. Contagious leaders use change to make the job, the departments, and the company, more productive and successful. How you handle change will determine how others handle it, in truth, everyone wants the benefits that change brings; we just don’t want to go through the process. What we need are more contagious leaders initiating change or embracing it, to accept it as a natural part of life.
- Focus – In order to get things done, one has to focus. There are countless distractions that make us lose focus, deviate us from the plan, and prevent us from staying on track, and we just don’t get the job done. Contagious leaders are implementers; they are capable of staying focused no matter what. They are masters at focusing on what is really important; they play to win, not to prevent losing.
- Integrity – Besides telling the truth, integrity is also about giving our word, all the time, and in everything we do, especially when it doesn’t serve us. Integrity is about always being on time. When you are late, you not only waste everyone’s time but you also show lack of integrity and you demoralize your people. However, integrity is much more; it is the right thing to do.
- Motivation – No one can motivate another person, motivation comes from within, and so, what contagious leaders are is motivation role models. They don’t expect external motivators like fear or incentives, instead, they practice causal motivation, this is, they work to be the best they can be without any stimulus from the outside, and in this way, they show behavior that promotes self-motivation. Contagious leaders honor the saying: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me”.
- Creating possibility – There are three ways to look at life:
- As a ‘what-has-been box’, where people say, “nothing can be done because this is how we’ve always done it.”
- As a ‘what-is box’, where people say, “nothing can be done because this is how things are.”
- As a ‘what-could-be box’, where contagious leaders are, where possibility lies, because we decide what to do with what we’ve got.
- 13. Risk – Contagious leaders take risks, they are never reckless, but they risk it. Anything worth doing involves a risk.
John Hersey – About the Author:
John speaks regularly about being an Unforgettable Leader and Creating Contagious Leadership. His fun and energizing keynote speeches and highly interactive workshops, have helped companies worldwide create the leaders they need for the business they want.
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