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Leadership Characteristics -- Character

Updated on November 12, 2018
Andrew Wayne Cook profile image

Wayne has over 40 years experience leading organizations to revitalization. He has been published in periodicals and newsletters and books.

The First Tool -- Character


If a person is a leader, he/she has a deep-rooted desire to succeed at leading people to accomplishing more than they would on their own without someone leading them. The successful leader pursues people of good noble character for their team. In fact, that is a trademark of a leader. Some have defined leadership a influencing others to great effort.It is also the cornerstone of good leadership.

How can a leader do that? Is there a secret to building fires under other individuals so that they go the extra mile or work together to make a plan come together?

It is not a secret, but many leaders miss it for years. If good character is not developed early in their lives or careers, they are not likely to develop it later in their careers. There are exceptions, of course, but generally character comes from influences in younger years.

Character comes from within the leader. One poster I discovered showed 36 traits of strong character while shows a list of four columns on their website with 48 traits in each column.

Though these and other lists show character traits, they do not define it.

When one thinks of character, there is an assumption of a person doing the right thing, in the right way, for the right reason, at the right excuses, no hedging, no wavering. A person of strong character is the cornerstone of any organization that has a long history of success.

When a person desires being an effective leader, that person must start with character.

Follow the Leader

Children learn character by playing games with others
Children learn character by playing games with others | Source

Building Strong Character

Good, strong character does not just happen. It is developed and nurtured over a lifetime. It begins in the earliest years of a person's life.

Parents have much to do with the character development of a person. An understanding of the different stages of a child's development process will help parents in that influence.

Infant years are when personality traits are developed. Temper tantrums and expecting to get your own way must be unlearned. Parents can teach babies to enjoy the company of others. They must be taught to laugh and be joyful. A pleasant atmosphere should envelop the child every day. Learning to understand, "No means no' is necessary..

Toddler years are when socialization skills and personality traits should be taught. If a parent is a stay at home parent, situations should be presented for interaction with other children and even adults. There must be teaching that eliminates the selfishness and lack of cooperation necessary to be an effective citizen. In the womb, the baby only has to look out for himself/herself unless twins or triplets, etc. In the real world that sheltering should end and sharing, cooperation and understanding become necessary

Pre-school years are extremely important in the intellectual development of a child. Experts say that by the time a child is six years old, the ability to learn has already been defined. Imagine -- a child needs to develop a thirst for knowledge and a sharp mind BEFORE they attend first grade. Parents should read to the child, teach the alphabet and nursery rimes to that young child. Socialization skills should be further developed. Parents can teach a child to read as early as three or four years.

Elementary school years are when one learns to lead and follow and to become part of a team. Opportunities for sports, music, and groups will teach character at this stage. Learning to win and lose and how to handle both become part of the strengthening of dealing with life challenges. Teach them not to quit, not give up, perseverance, and good sportsmanship so they can adapt their efforts. Rewards should be given when they earn them.

Events Mold Character

Events and Experiences Mold Character
Events and Experiences Mold Character | Source

Events Help Mold Character

Many events take place in a person's life. Some things are easy to handle, others not so much. Some are pleasant, others unpleasant. The ability to handle both positive and negative events determines the character.

If a person only deals with pleasant and easy events, courage and determination can suffer. If a person only faces difficulty and pain, the person becomes intolerant and intolerable. Sternness and unpleasantness surround that person and the people around that person steer clear and exclude themselves from socialization.

There must be a balance to develop the kind of character that can lead others. If a person only deals with failure, there is an education of failure. If a person deals only with winning, there is an education that excludes the ability to overcome the difficult times in life and organizations.

Someone has said, "The test of your character is what it takes to stop you." There is much truth in that, but a person's character is also tested by the ability to adapt to change, the ability to encourage, the ability to tolerate other personalities and elevate teamwork.

Environment Influences Character

The People Whoa Surround a Person Influence Character
The People Whoa Surround a Person Influence Character | Source

Environment Can Influence Character

A person's surroundings is called environment. It can include housing, neighborhood, employers, socioeconomic environment and other situations surrounding the person.

The ability to handle those environmental influences by an individual is extremely important if he/she is to become an effective leader. So many situations occur when leading that require the character to persevere and help the organization's members to face those challenges head-on.

Knowing when to change directions, take chances, or stand still instead of moving will come much more readily when the leader has experience in handling the various conditions of environmental change. Most projects have changing environments. The leader must have the courage and wisdom to take the team to higher heights of stardom.

An often forgotten area to consider in building character is that of spouses. The person who marries a leader needs to be compatible with the leadership character and personality. Many are the ones who have succeeded because of the support and partnership of an outstanding mate. President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama stand out as examples.

Friendship is another forgotten relationship in a leader's environment. Humans tend to become like the people with whom they associate on a regular basis. Rare is the person who can withstand being different throughout the lifetime of good or bad friends. That is one reason that alcoholics who stop drinking or druggies who stop using often move to other groups or social involvements when they make that change. The environment often has to change.

Leaders who only hang around followers usually lose the ability to think like a leader and act like one.

So, maybe leaders need to take a checkup on their friends, social circles, and other areas of influence and find ways to improve them. It will help the leader expand the character traits they have. It may help strengthen character as well.

© 2018 Andrew Wayne Cook


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