What is character?
What makes character important?
Where do you find character?
How do you build a lasting character?
Posner and Kouzes the authors of “The Leadership Challenge” surveyed thousands of business and government executives to see what they thought were the most important ‘characteristics’ for a leader.
2. Vision – forward looking
Honesty ranks as the number one character trait that matters more than any other trait. How important do you think honesty is in America today? Do the top leaders act with impeccable honesty? Do leaders in the middle support and make honesty their #1 objective?
The honesty dilemma. Most people would say that being honest is the right thing to do, and at the same time have difficulty executing with honesty during the day. Why is that?
Is there some type of fear that is associated with being honest? What is it? Is it a cultural issue? Is it habit or bad habits that trap us in a web of twists and turns that take truth and mold it to fit in a better way the story we want to be told.
How important is it for a leader to be honest? How important is it for everyone to be honest?
A critical leadership trait is integrity. The word integrity comes from the Latin ‘Integritas’ which meant soundness. Going back in history to the height of the Roman armies the story goes that the soldiers would put on their leather armor and then would strike with their fist shouting ‘Integritas’ when they did. The sound of good solid leather was filled with integrity. Overtime the ritual became less important and as a result the Roman Army lost their integrity (‘Integritas’) – their soundness and began to lose their battles.
Leaders in today’s world also have to be filled with sound principles, sound action, sound reasoning and morally correct reasoning. Leaders need to be filled with integrity. The difficult today as it was with the Roman Army maintaining integrity is difficult when forces all around the leader attempt to reduce or remove integrity. When personal gain is at stake we too often seen leaders crumble and their integrity melt. As Lord Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Leaders need to remain humble even as their power (assumed or otherwise) rises to ensure that their integrity is not compromised, once lost it is difficult to regain.
Posted in Humility, Leadership
Tagged corruption, history, Humility, Integritas, integrity, Leadership, leather armor, Lord Acton, power, roman armies
This will begin a series of short posts about the qualities of a leader. Granted it is not part of a coaching model but leadership and coaching have close ties in many areas. Jump on board and explore the qualities.
In 1948 General Omar Bradley defined leadership as “the art of influencing human behavior through ability to directly influence people and direct them toward a specific goal.” What I wanted to point out in the definition is that there are similarities between coaching and leadership as defined here.
In the world of coaching the coachee defines the path and the coach holds the coachee accountable to the goals. Bradley’s definition of leadership is other-directed (leader to follower) and in the world of the coach it is self-directed with the coach helping to ensure integrity in the process.
Elevate your skills, elevate who you are ….
The leaders from now on must be champions of cooperation more often than competition. While the power to maintain access to resources and to deter aggression will remain vital, the “survival of the fittest” mentality must give way to “the survival of the wisest”, a philosophy of understanding, cooperation, knowledge and reason. The real leaders will get what they want by helping others get what they want.” Dennis Waitley from “Safari to the Soul”
The last sentence in that quote is a large part of what coaching is all about. It is about helping others get what they want. In many cases it will be identifying what others want and then creating the charts and maps for them to reach that temporary destination.
Our maps are ephemeral in a sense that they need to be continually updated as we reach or approach the desired destination. Change is the force that pushes us in new directions on a continual basis. To stand in one place in some form is loss. To flow with the winds of change or to master the winds of change and to sail deliberately to some place gives meaning and purpose to life.
Marianne Williamson writes, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? “
What does it mean to really, truly believe in our abilities? Do we know that we can change the world if we change ourselves? Releasing the hidden potential we have within us can be transformational not only for us but those around us. Often though we don’t know what we want to release. We aren’t sure where our strengths really lie. Even with introspective looks at ourselves we don’t always find our strengths.
We need to step back from the daily grind and listen to our hearts at times. Take a step back, relax, and just listen to your heart. Listen with open ears to the voice that emanates from within. What do you hear? Is what you hear familiar or is it something new and different, liberating, energized, and filled with potential.
Strengths, therein lies our potential when we can mobilize and utilize the strengths that we have. Peter Drucker the guru of business thought wrote, “… one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths. These strengths are the true opportunities.” (The effective executive, p. 60).
When we maximize the use of our strengths we find fulfillment in what we do. The use of our strengths also releases positive feelings within us and that fuels us to continue in that endeavor.
Check out www.viastrengths.org to get an idea of what your strengths are.
“What can’t be seen is hard to change”, writes Daniel Goleman. That is one point of coaching to help expose what can’t be seen so that what isn’t being seen can come into the realm of being.
How often have we been exposed to one of our blind spots at a time that was not fun for us to experience? I’m sure it has happened, that someone brings up something we were totally unaware of and makes an issue of it. Well it shouldn’t have been an issue if you were aware of it.
When we reach some point in our life we get tired of holding putting on our “character armor” which hides our known flaws. Eventually that armor gets heavy and we grow tired of carrying it around. At that point we can decide to grow ourselves or grow with help. Growing with help (coaching) allows us to set real goals and work towards those goals. A coach helps encourage and acknowledge the successes that are being made and then reminds us of those goals that aren’t being attended to.
All this leads us to the world of risk and reward. To step into a coaching relationship requires taking a risk. If we were willing to take a risk earlier we would have likely achieved many of the goals that now are weighing us down. The reward is then the early step, the first step of risk and then towards the goal of achievement.
Elbert Hubbard said, “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.”
You would think that it wasn’t very important given the issues we have in our society. Encouragement should be applied in ratios of 9 to 1, 9 encouraging events to one event of correction. Often the ratio is reversed and the belief that more correction than encouragement will increase the desired outcome.
Zen student: “Master, I am very discouraged.”
Master: “Encourage others.”
Certainly one way to increase the level of encouragement is to actively encourage others even when you’re not feeling very encouraged at the time. This will require a substantial effort on your part to be an encourager when you are down.
The coaching hint here is – encourage others. Start today. Now there are other elements of encouragement that need to be considered. The encouragement has to be genuine, meaningful, heartfelt, authentic and valuable. In order to encourage effectively means really digging deep into your own soul to find the right words. This may be the difficult part because encouragement has to be more than just words slipping off the lips it will take some real effort to construct a meaningful encouragement statement.
What do you encourage people for? If you have children you probably encouraged your child to master these early tasks, like walking, eating, talking, and reading. It wasn’t just a one time event it was a constant stream of positive encouragement. We should encourage people for things working on things that enable them to become better in something. We should encourage people who want to make a positive change in their lives.
Are you ready to encourage others? I hope so, make it a regular gift you give and encourage someone today.