“Character is not something one can fool people about.” Peter F. Drucker
The quality of your character determines the type of leader you are, models the behavior you want those under your command to imitate and sets the tone for your organization. Character defines everything you do and impacts everything you touch. Good character attracts and empowers. Bad character repulses and oppresses.
Integrity is the foundation underpinning character.
Integrity is the quality of being morally upright, being honest and having principles that guide how you live, treat others and make decisions. Integrity, or the absence of it, defines your character. If you are a person of integrity, then good things will flow from you. If you lack integrity, darkness is sure to follow.
We’re all familiar with the story of finding a $100 bill on the floor. It’s easy to say what you would do when everybody is looking. Character, driven by integrity, is what defines what you do when no one can see you.
People are forgiving.
Those in your care will forgive a lot. They will overlook insolence, ignorance, insecurity, and even incompetence; however, they will not forgive you for lacking integrity.
Great character births great leadership.
In order to have a great organization, you must have people of great character. Great character breeds an organization filled with a great spirit and embodies its people with life and the ability to do great things. Great character yields great results. Simply think of the great leaders of the world present during World War II. Men like Winston Churchill and Roosevelt. These were leaders not of men, but of nations. They were able to lead their countries out of darkness and overcome great evil in the most dire of circumstances. They were men of integrity and character.
We all fall short.
None of us are perfect, to be sure. And as leaders we are held to a higher standard of accountability so we must act with consistency and ensure we are operating with integrity and true character—even when no one is looking.
Perhaps you’re starting the New Year looking to lead your company in a new direction. The quality of your character will determine not only how, but if you get there.