Do you have the RIGHT character for effective leadership?
Truth be told; developing ones character is not an easy task, it’s a lifelong task, but its benefits outweighs any pain suffered along the way.
Character is not a destination that is reached; it’s a continuous process that must be perpetually worked on. Just as Eleanor Roosevelt rightly said,
“Character building begins in our infancy, and continues until death”.
Although character is related to personality, it is not the same thing. Personality is primarily inborn traits, while character consists of learned behaviour. Personality is what comes with you from birth; character is what you build all through your life.
Therefore, as a CEO in playing your leadership role, character development must be an ongoing process and this lifetime journey revolves around two key things that you must constantly focus on and always strive to improve. What are they?
- Your Values
- Your Habits
Why do you think the way you do? Values. Why do you behave the way you do? Values. Values are a set of deeply held beliefs, principles, qualities, standards or virtues that inspire and guides how we do (attitude) and why we do (thoughts).
Values are at the core of our attitudes, thoughts and dispositions; the combination of what we believe in and how we behave. They are what constitute what we think about (thoughts/intents) and form the basis of our attitude and dispositions.
In other words, they are the unseen source from which all our thoughts and attitudes originate. They determine what we believe and don’t believe; what we hold to be true; what’s important; what we respect and don’t respect; and what we are willing and not willing to do to achieve our goals.
They are the inner rules or principles we use to make choices and run our lives. They are those things we believe to be right in relationship to how we behave and why we do the things we do.
We all have values, whether implied or explicit; no human exists without one. We are all driven by something within; some are driven by money, sex, greed, pain, anger, change, purpose, etc. There are both positive and negative values, we can either choose to acknowledge our values and make necessary corrections or choose to ignore their existence and enslave ourselves. Whichever way we choose to look at it, the fact remains true; we’re all driven by one value or another, good or bad.
The difference between exceptional leaders and ordinary men and women is the simple fact that exceptional leaders consciously identify and adopt certain enduring values of life and greatness. While ordinary people simply go about their lives without being aware of the values they have unconsciously adopted. The truth is that there’s no vacuum in life, we must either choose our own values deliberately or allow our subconscious to adopt whatever value it picks from those around us.
This is the case with most people; they find themselves being driven by values they didn’t remember adopting and these values often times run contrary to their character. Because it’s your life and you’re ultimately responsible for how it turns out, why not take the pain to identify, choose and adopt the right values on which to build your life?
You’re probably asking yourself right now one of these questions; “what has being an effective leader got to do with my personal values in life?” Or “are we talking about life here or business?”
To both questions, the answers are the same;
life is a business, business is life.
Both are not two independent things, they are only two sides of the same coin. When it comes to success or greatness in life or in business, the rules are the same. Just as you cannot separate your body from your spirit, you cannot also draw a line between life and business. Why? Because both revolve around you as a person.
You are responsible for running your life and your business; neither will change until you do. If you cannot see the relationship between your behaviour and the results you’re not achieving in your life or in your business, then there’s nothing to change.
The way you live your personal life will reflect in your business and vice versa. People fail in business often times because they try to live a dual life by separating their business from their life. This is only insane. Every successful CEO or business executive knows that business is not another entity away from life, but rather an extension of life. Where do you think the whole idea of doing what you love and bringing your passion to work originated from?
Business at its very core simply means doing something about what you’re most concerned–passion. It means taking your passion and making it an enterprise. How on earth do you intend to do this independently without involving your life? Therefore, your personal values as well as your business values must be one. Duplicity will never lead to authenticity. Remember our definition of character; wholeness whether in business or life or wherever you find yourself.
Now let’s take a look at some of the enduring values of effective leaders both present and past. Each of these values have been personalized so as to make them memorable and practicable for you.
Habits are what you do (actions) as a result of what you believe and have accepted as true. Habits are your values in action. Your values are manifested through your habits.
As John C. Maxwell said;
“Habits are not instincts. They are acquired reactions. They don’t just happen; they are caused. First we form habits, then our habits form us.”
Your values are the source of your habits. If you have the wrong values, you will exhibit the wrong habits.
For example, someone who deeply values pleasure will form the habit of always shying away from work. Likewise, someone who believes so much in material possession will form the habit of acquiring luxuries. Also, a person who values knowledge will always be found reading and learning.
Habits are often considered dangerous because once they are formed; they can be very hard to break.
So what are some of the habits of effective leaders?
I’ve only tried to an extent to provide a head start for you as it’s essential you continue to search for more enduring values and habits of greatness in life. Remember, character development is a lifelong journey.
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Has your business IQ increased as a result of reading this article?