“Understanding Character”

I won’t lie, at first I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea of ‘character.’ What is it by actual definition versus my own definition and perceptions of it. I also spent the early part of my morning deciding how I was going to digest and dissect this quality of a leader. Maxwell’s teaching centers around the idea of learning and rebuilding from your mistakes in the recent past. I don’t disagree with this idea, but my take on his teachings is about learning what values the people I lead have.

So my method of understanding character as it relates to my role was polling different people at work today. What I discovered was that people never defined character, but they articulated what they think good character is. Character, based on my discussions today, is seen as a positive positive quality. The question I posed to five different people was, “What comes to mind when you hear the word character?” I was thrilled that the overwhelming theme was in line with my own ideas of “trust and integrity.” The ability to depend on others and their word is sacred. Each of these team members were at varying levels of experience and leadership, but at the end of the day all of them associate character with being honest and trustworthy.

The question now is, how do I focus on building relationships with them to gain their trust? More importantly, how do I make the conscious effort every day to maintain that bond and not lose the faith they have in me?

I was surprised by an additional benefit to my approach in understanding the idea of character. People were taken aback my vulnerability and were even thankful that I took the time to ask their opinion. Not only am I growing and developing from pondering this idea of character, I’m engaging my team and peers in a whole new way. They were two minute conversations, but the impact that had on their day and our relationship, I believe, is unmeasurable. It excites me to think that not only can I grow from this experience, but they too can benefit from my exploration of leadership.


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