Leadership Is All About Character

Often punctuated by bombast and complicated jargon, most leadership discussions make something simple seem so complex. This piece boils leadership down to its essence.

Norman Schwarzkopf once said, “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” I couldn’t agree more. Titles, pedigree or organization charts do not a leader make! Rather, leaders must possess the necessary character to inspire others to follow.

What does this mean? An exceptional leader must have the right combination of characteristics necessary to exude the confidence, radiate the passion and convey the trustworthiness required to motivate others to follow them.

Here’s why leadership is all about character:

  1. We want to be believe: People will follow someone in which they genuinely believe. That said, it is a leader’s perceived character that we subconsciously evaluate while deciding whether to follow or ignore them.
  2. Confidence demands attention: Confidence is an attractive quality as long as it doesn’t evolve into arrogance. A leader that projects confidence captures their people’s attention and demands their respect. It is part of the “secret sauce” that makes-up the character of most impressive leaders (think Steve Jobs, Jack Welch and Henry Ford).
  3. Passion is a turn-on: The most remarkable leaders possess, within their character, an ability to maintain a singular focus–even when confronted by realities that would serve to distract most others. This trait serves as quite a turn-on for many aspiring leaders and can encourage the self-sacrifice among them that leads to unparalleled achievement within a business.
  4. Consistency inspires trust: A leader that has the character necessary to repeatedly set a high standard for fairness, honesty and reliability will build trust with the people that they are charged with leading–making that leader indispensable within any organization of which they are part.
  5. It takes courage to curate a “Big Idea”: People look to their leaders for direction. They want their leaders to give them the “Big Idea” which will stir them to take action. But, this is no easy task. It takes tremendous courage and self-assurance to curate an idea strong enough for people to rally around. It is here where a great leader’s personal character separates them from the rest.

In a nutshell, extraordinary leaders possess the character to set direction and manage change. They have a certain je ne sais quoi that makes them distinctive and impossible to ignore. Indeed, they hold the necessary allure that inspires others to follow. Do you think that you have what it takes to be a special leader?

This article was originally published by Inc.com, February 1, 2016

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