Becoming a leader of character is a process that never ends. It is a never ending road towards a destination you can never completely reach. But, leaders must take this road daily in order to grow and lead well.
I had the benefit of my father, General Jim Anderson, and four years of training at West Point to guide me towards being a leader of character. One of the reasons I began to blog, consult and coach on this subject is I realized how blessed I was compared to most aspiring leaders. I had guides!
I define character as: Our habitual way of operating.
But how does one develop character without the benefit of a leader of character for a dad or a 4 year leadership school? It starts by understanding how our character is formed.
- Begins with our thoughts.
- Our thoughts become our words.
- Our words lead to our actions.
- Our actions become habits.
- Our habits determine our character.
- Our character determines our destiny.
4 Steps To Becoming A Leader Of Character
1. Character Formation Begins With My Thoughts: I must spend time filling my mind with positive influences.
- Read: A leader who doesn’t read has the same opportunity to grow as and illiterate.
- Mentors/Friends: I become most like the people I spend the most time with. Spend time with people who already are where or who I want to be.
- Turn Off TV: It amazes me how much more time I have to read when I fast from the television.
- Reading Pulp: Entertainment magazines, only junk novels, rants on the internet that offer nothing but criticism.
- Negative Friends: These are people who live life for only themselves. They have questionable moral standards and rarely offer anything positive to say.
- Limit Mindless Input: Do we really need to watch EVERY singing competition on TV, SportsCenter multiple times a day, House Hunters reruns or tasteless YouTube videos?
- Read these: the Bible, biographies about role models, leadership books, articles and blogs.
2. My Thoughts Become My Words: I must capture my bad thoughts and share my best ones.
- Speak truth- Speak aloud my convictions about right and wrong.
- Be A Problem Solver- Offer positive solutions.
- Share- Character building things I learned this week with others.
- Gossip- Serves no purpose but to make me feel better about myself.
- Complaining- Without offering solutions.
- Silence- When I see a moral wrong/injustice.
- Join or create a group of like-minded people to discuss important issues and make each other better.
3. My Speech Leads To My Actions: “Well done is better than well said.” -Benjamin Franklin
- Be authentic- If I say I believe in something, then I must ACT like it.
- Be consistent- Act on my convictions in every circumstance.
- Being A Hypocrite: Everyone knows one and no one respects them.
- Situational Ethics: See Hypocrite.
- Begin today and act like my convictions matter. Unless I act on them, my convictions are meaningless. (See Hypocrite)
4. My Actions Become My Habits: Virtuous actions repeated over time become my habits.
- Small things- Follow my convictions in the small things and the big things become easier.
- All things: There are no small decisions when it comes to my character.
- Procrastination: If I don’t make the right choice in the small decisions, I will not make them in the big things.
- Exercise: Just like I build muscle with low weights first, I must choose the right thing to do in little decisions: littering, tipping, language, follow-through. This will begin a new habit and prepare me for larger tests of character.
The Bottom Line:
Our Habits Determine Our Character and Our Character Determines Our Destiny.
I can’t read a book or go to a training seminar or a Sunday sermon and suddenly be transformed into a leader of character. Becoming a leader of character is a life long pursuit that will determine my destiny.
If I maintain my focus on becoming a leader of character by following the steps above, I will become a person others believe in, want to follow and want to emulate. That is a road worth travelling and a destination most people aspire to.
What actions do you take to build your character? How can organizations help there people become leaders of character?