What Does Your Character Say About You as a Leader?

Pat Williams states that Character is the fourth side of leadership in his book Leadership Excellence.

Your character is an array of personality traits you have built into your life over time. These personality traits determine how you will behave in a range of situations, including times of pressure, danger, stress, and temptation. When your character is put to the test – Are you honest to the core – or will you lie and evade responsibility? Are you courageous - or cowardly? Are you loyal – or unfaithful? Are you self-sacrificing - or self-serving? Are you hardworking – or lazy?

When people act selfishly or disgraceful, they may have excused their behavior as being “out of character”. They don’t normally behave that way; the pressure or temptation was too great. In reality, the way they/we behave under stress is exactly who we are. You cannot just be a person of great character when you want to be.

Every team or organization needs people with a good, strong character – especially at the leadership level. Pat has been researching leadership for over three decades and has concluded that leadership is rooted in character. A leader not only takes charge but also does the right thing. It’s not enough to make a decision but also make the right decision resulting from a strong character. It is the same thing with taking action: it needs to be the right action, prompted by strong character.

Good character is built gradually, day-by-day and year-by-year, by making moral decisions. Character strength is built by consistently accepting responsibility instead of shifting blame, choosing the correct harder path avoiding the easy way out, and sacrificing our personal welfare in order to serve others. Every good, moral choice we make, especially those choices we make when no one else is looking, build the habits of good character.

There are many character traits that we can focus on, and Pat explains several of them along with several personal stories that are relevant to those of us in leadership roles.