By: Dr. Faron L. Hollinger, Akribos Founder & CEO
As I look back through the rear view mirror of my past experience and my relationships with a number of exemplary leaders, I have concluded that effective leadership is strongly linked to a common core of values, beliefs, and convictions that define the individual and ultimately determine their capacity to lead. This is also a position supported by a large body of current research and numerous psychologists and other behavioral scientists. Consequently, it is not surprising that the value of character has become increasingly recognized in the contemporary business world. Many major corporations have no doubt concluded that appropriate core values and standards of conduct hold the potential for effective leadership. Effective leadership, in turn, leads to dedication, commitment, productivity, and a competitive edge in the marketplace for their respective organizations.
Clearly, character is more than image or reputation and it is not subject to manipulation by image consultants or public relations specialists. It transcends what we appear to be or what others think we are. It is who we are when no one else is looking or listening and it is foundational to our personal and professional attitudes and conduct. It has been said that actions speak louder than words and effective leaders demonstrate character when they say what they mean and mean what they say. They don’t just talk the talk; they also walk the walk.
All of us know through experience that life has a way of presenting the totally unexpected at the most inopportune moment. Although we rarely have the option to choose our circumstances, we always have the option to choose our response. The appropriate response is not always the most convenient or popular response and the choice we make will reveal our true character.
How many times have we been inspired by leaders who experienced apparent failure but were able to bounce back in the face of seemingly impossible odds? Conversely, how many times have we been disappointed by bright, charismatic and promising leaders who have fallen from grace due to moral or ethical indiscretions at the pinnacle of a promising political, business, or professional career? It all boils down to character and it is essential to overcoming failure or handling success in healthy and productive ways. Character in a leader will instill trust in those who follow, and character is revealed in the actions you take, the choices you make, and your response to both adversity and success.