character and leadership

“Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.” Robert Jarvik

“A well adjusted person is one who makes the same mistake twice without getting nervous.” – Jane Heard

Let’s talk about leaders and leadership and character.

Great leadership is inspired by great ideas and great beliefs and a great vision and the ability to make mistakes with nerves of steel.

Bottom line? Strength of character.

They may not be the smartest.

They may have charisma and they may not.

They may not be the best at any responsibility they have had up until that point (functionally).

But they know how to lead.

And people follow.


A leader needs a sense of a leadership philosophy with certain beliefs to clearly guide attitudes and action and behavior.

So. I read this following logic flow awhile back about leadership.

Trust is the foundation of leadership. Character creates trust and trust makes leadership possible.

It’s hard to argue with that logic.

I personally believe it is through their character they involve a balanced combination of work, pride <or spirit>, soul and home life all of which enables this ‘trust’ in the leader. I wrote in a TED discussion thread that leaders have a desire to increase the overall wealth of their employees – overall wealth being a combination of “head, heart, wallet.”

And in the end the people, those following, trust that the leader will do right for the organization (business) and the people (personally).

It’s a tricky balance.
I do believe leaders with character make empowerment an internal attitude and mindset cultivating that attitude and lead while still empowering.
They also have an ability to tap into the soul of the organization (and a significant number of employees) as they engage the minds.
Both of those last to things seem to create a connection with the organization without losing status as a leader.
In the end they lead people and manage things (not manage people and lead tactics/actions).

And they get the hell out of the way of their people and let good shit get done.

“The best leader is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” Theodore Roosevelt

At its extreme?

I love this following quote:

“There go my people. I must find out where they are going so I can lead them.” Alexandre Ledru-Rollin

Imagine the type of fortitude and character necessary to have an organization be dynamic and actually follow. Whew.


Let’s think about who can be a leader.


I guess anyone can be a leader.

And, in fact, in a broad sense everyone is a leader.

If you have influence you have leadership responsibilities.

Yeah. Whether you like it or not if you influence the way people think or work then you have a level of leadership (sorry about that).

And it is because of this influence factor I kinda think everyone should be concerned (or at least pay attention to) about what kind of influence you have on others.


Let me stick with business leaders here (although some of what I am going to say is extremely relevant to all of us in our everyday lives).

Character leaders typically seek to have a positive influence on the people around them. Influence through trust, honesty and respect.

I found this image which describes the ‘sphere of influence’ a character driven leader impacts (or influences).

It is interesting but even with leadership with trust an honest a character driven leader may not always be always popular (or well liked) mainly because they don’t fear telling people that they are wrong (because they are influencing the organization through a set belief/attitude structure).

This type of leader pushes out into this sphere of influence their philosophy and beliefs as guidance for ideas.

A character driven leader tends to be respected (but not always liked).

A character driven leader works towards what is “right” (not what will make people happy) and the benefit of the organization & people rather than acting in order to be recognized.

A character driven leader empowers responsibilities that enhance the people and the organization (and often will be almost invisible in the success … unless they also combine charisma with character).

Bottom line.

The best leaders don’t just lead.

They have character.

That may sound obvious but you can be a great leader and not have a strong character.

Or maybe better said you have another characteristic that is more important to the situation at hand. And that is okay.

Organizations typically need different types of leadership at different times (so it would be silly to suggest there is only one type of “great” leader).

But, if you have an opportunity to work with a character driven leader, jump at the chance.

Chances like that don’t come often.

And it is worth every minute to be part of that type of an organization.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Written by Bruce