Leadership Requires Character

To climb the ladder, you can’t be the one with your foot on the bottom step

To be an engineer for example, you need to have certain qualifications, and regularly be assessed against engineering competencies so that you are still deemed safe and competent to work. However, what an engineer or any other role in any other industry is not assessed on is our character. Leadership is about CHARACTER!

When going through our competency assessments or exams so that we gain the qualifications to be whatever it is we are working towards, it is all provided for us. We also have the help we need to be successful in that area. That is not our responsibility to provide.

1. What Do We Have Full Responsibility Over?

But, what we do have full responsibility for is our motivation, drive, positive thoughts, inspiration and determination to pass the exams and complete the assessments.

I don’t know many people throughout my career of 21 years who have ever been fired, I am one of those people. There have been times early on in my career when I probably should have been fired, but I was let off and given another chance on a couple of occasions.

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When you think about it, can you imagine being hired for a job by a person or company, and then later be fired by the same person or company? One minute you are on such a high from getting a new job, and the next minute you are on such a low from losing it.

Let’s discuss why people get fired from jobs, but also let’s discuss why they get hired in the first place.

Whenever I have hired anyone in my previous roles, it was to do a job. I wanted to know “what” they knew, or what competencies they had. This is usually why people are hired, but there is so much more than just knowing what to do when hiring someone.

The criteria that is usually considered when hiring someone one is:

  • A great resume or curriculum vitae (cv)
  • The right qualifications to do the job
  • The right skills that match the job description
  • Answer the questions in the interview correctly
  • Good references

If the person can match the above, then that is when they are usually hired.

Then, when they are hired and they have been in the job for a good while, they either assure their leader that they can do the job or they can’t. It’s very rare that the people we hire cannot do the job.

However, what we also find out about the person we have hired is their character or who they are. We learn this by how they act, who they associate with and what decisions they have made.

Sometimes after a while in the job, we may find that the person we hired would be better suited in a different role, but that is not firing or demoting. It is more of just a side step in their career. This happened to me a few times, and it worked out for the best.

So, the reason for the side step is not an issue with what they know, it is more of what they don’t know. Obviously, they can learn what they don’t know but depending on the size of the team and the job, it can be better to move them into a different role.

2. What Is The Problem?

So, as I stated, the problem isn’t with what the person knows. When it comes to firing someone, the problem is something else; CHARACTER!

When it comes to getting fired, it’s not “what we know”, it’s not “who we know”, it’s “WHO WE ARE”. 9 times out of 10, our character is what gets us fired.

In my career, I have had to fire 3 people. The reasons I had to fire these people are as follows:

  • When things didn’t go their way, they dealt with things very badly
  • When I tried to implement a change, they did not embrace that change
  • They would rather be part of the problem than part of the solution
  • They didn’t treat me or the rest of the team well or professionally
  • They liked to talk about me behind my back in a very negative way
  • They didn’t like me giving credit, as they thought it made them look bad
  • When they showed up to work, they were usually late
  • They were usually late for meetings
  • They didn’t like to help with ideas or bring any of their own ideas to meetings
  • They were always looking for me to tell them what to do rather than use their own initiative
  • They didn’t show any leadership or a will to help others
  • They talked the talk, but didn’t walk the walk

As a team, the meetings that we usually go to are to be informed or advised about what’s happening. But, I would always encourage my teams to bring their ideas, and I would listen. I would listen to understand, not to reply and talk over them.

Business is not business, business is people. Businesses do not fail, people fail. Businesses do not succeed, people succeed

3. How Do We Ensure We Remain On The Right Path?

So, from the reasons above of why I fired my 3 people, what can you do to ensure you don’t behave like them? What can you do to ensure that you remain on the right direction on your journey? What can you do to ensure you are striving towards a successful career and life?

You must learn and implement what I am sharing with you, and continue learning from other great leaders.

Leadership is not a noun, it is a verb. Leadership is action, it is moving, so you cannot stand still when it comes to your leadership. Your influence is either increasing or decreasing, it is never still. The only way to ensure your influence is increasing depends on your character and every decision you make, every day.

4. Leadership And Character Development

I’ve never worked with a company who train their teams on leadership development, or character development. When it comes to the people, the only training they have ever gotten is competency based training so they can do their job a bit better.

To me, that is not good enough. The team members need leadership development just as much as any supervisor or manager.

This has been the norm for years, so it doesn’t mean that the company you are working with is a bad company, or they have bad leaders.

Hopefully, the company you’re working with has provided you with leadership books or personal growth books. If that is the case then they do care about developing your character and your leadership. If you thank your leader for providing you with these books then that will definitely increase your influence.

On the other hand, help your company if they did not give you these kinds of books, or they don’t provide leadership development for their team members.

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By sharing leadership and personal growth books, you will be recognised by your team, your boss, their boss, and even their boss as a leader. Share the principles you have learned from this article and my other articles, and help the people who don’t understand.

This will increase you influence tenfold, and the company may even follow your lead to bring in leadership development for the people and beyond.

If your company eventually invests in leadership development and character development for their people, then they will attract the best leaders and people all the time.

Your decisions determine how your life will end up. To create the life you want, you must make the right decisions

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

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All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

20 thoughts on “Leadership Requires Character

  1. Great article! I have always encouraged our children to take personal responsibility and make good choices. You tie it together in a very easy-to-follow format. I’ll be sharing this with my FB page, too!

    1. Hi Diane,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article valuable.

      I totally agree with teaching your children to take personal responsibility. Teaching them this when they are young is always best for when they grow older.

      Thanks for sharing my article, really appreciate it.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Great post on leadership.

    I have a friend who runs a logistics company and he talks about what you have here.

    So important to have all these elements in the mix when you are a manager and need to maintain a high standard.

    1. Hi LJ,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased you found it helpful.

      Thanks for sharing how your friend likes to talk about and take action on the same too. You are right, maintaining a high standard when it comes to your character is so important.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. First of all, AMAZING article. So well-written and it’s so true. Self development is something that companies do not train, but rather it comes from individuals’ efforts themselves.

    Intrinsic values have deeper and are more priceless than monetary ones. It can bring an individual far beyond just their careers if one improves their character.

    Leadership is magnetic and its influence knows no boundaries. That is why businesses that prioritise its people tend to go far. Without people, there are no business.

    Once again, wonderful article!

    1. Hi Sam,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you thought the article was amazing, I really appreciate it.

      You are right, companies do not really train us in self development, and it absolutely should be.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Your post is so edifying. Most people want to influence others, but they paid little or no attention to their own personal character traits. As you rightly pointed out, if we spend more time working on ourselves, we can influence and lead people in a better way.

    1. Hi M Charles,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      You are right, working on ourselves every day is so important to our influence. If we want to increase our influence then we must become more valuable as a leader, and to do that we must work on ourselves a lot more.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Hi Tom,
    This is really an inspirational article. I believe as you that everyone who is talented and educated could train himself to be a leader. No one is born to be a leader. I liked what you said here: As a team, the meetings that we usually go to are to be informed or advised about what’s happening. But, I would always encourage my teams to bring their ideas, and I would listen. I would listen to understand, not to reply and talk over them. This really the truth and the beginning of success.
    Have a great day
    Rania

    1. Hi Rania,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article inspirational.

      You are right, it really is the truth that when we listen to ideas from our people, then we are listening to understand. If we listen to reply then we are not really listening, we are hearing. Our people need to feel like they have been listened to, and not that they are being talked over.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Hi Tom.
    What a great article. Many need to be reminded on what it means to be a leader and not a dictator. To empower, inspire, and lead. This article is really valuable and is something one can go back and read over and over again. Keep it up.

    1. Hi Felicity,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found it valuable.

      You are so right, it is a leaders role to empower, inspire and ultimately to lead. But, how do you do that? You do that by influencing your people.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Hi Tom, interesting point of view when you say we fire people based on their character. I have never really thought in that way but looking back to colleagues that were fired, that do make sense. I have seen people with amazing knowledge but were fired because they couldn’t work with the team. I’d say sometimes it is better to hire someone with a “good character” then good knowledge. Skills can be learned. Leadership is really important fact and for each and every one of us not just for whom is in the “role” of leadership. Who doesn’t like to work with someone that is leader, inspirational, that work together towards to success of all. We have a lot to learn on that area…. keep sharing with us.

    1. Hi TGP,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article valuable.

      Thank you for sharing your experience when seeing people fired in your area of work in the past. It does make sense that people are mostly fired because of their character instead of their competency. I didn’t think of that either years ago, but when thinking hard about it, like you it made total sense.

      Yes, we do all have a lot to learn. Leaders are constant learners and I will keep sharing my articles with you and the world.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. You always provide such useful tips about leadership in all your articles I have read, and that is why I keep coming back to learn how to be a better leader from you. Can anyone become a leader or is this something some of us are naturally good at like you, I really feel it takes special people to become good leaders

    Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased you found the article helpful.

      It’s great that you keep coming back and engaging, it’s really pleasing to me.

      Everybody has the potential to become a leader. However, not everybody wants to become a leader. If you want to become a leader then all you need to do is keep learning.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

    1. Hi A Darius,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that the article amazed you, I’m really pleased.

      If you need any further help or advice then check out my other articles, or get in touch.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. Hi Tom
    Thanks for another inspiring article. I guess I am fortunate that in my career I have been through various iterations of management training, including an MBA that I followed in my mid-30s while full-time employed and later employer paid management development courses. I have also been fortunate to have received leadership training, which as you say has a different focus than management development and training. Of course this is one of those areas prone to fads and forever finding new ways to slice and dice attributes and characteristics into four quadrant diagrams with new labels. There is a big difference between supervising a team and managing people and leading and managing people who lead and manage other people who supervise yet other people. And you only get to understand the differences when you experience them first hand. As you so rightly say as a leader you have to inspire and enable forward movement. Much of the recent thinking is towards finding your leadership strengths – gaining an understanding of what we are doing well and trying to do more of it and leverage that to other activities. Well I guess that is the latest leadership fad anyway.
    Thanks again and best regards
    Andy
    PS The first time I had to fire someone was actually when I was doing my MBA. It wasn’t easy but with long conversations, much listening and clear explanation I was able to get across what was happening and why which helped the person accept the outcome.

    1. Hi Andy,

      Thank you for your very thorough comment. Really pleased you found the article inspirational.

      It’s great that you share your experiences as they will help other people who have been in similar positions to you.

      Firing people is never easy and is one of those things that as a leader, I wish I never had to do it. But, that is what makes a leader’s role very difficult and we must do the right thing.

      It’s great that you have experienced this and in your last comment it sounds like you know how to get the message across but still remain positive.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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