Your personality may attract a following, but it won’t have any long-term impact. For long-term impact, you need something more than lots of charisma and a good public image. You need character. Effective leadership is an inside-out job.
If you are one person when the spotlights are on you and someone different when the lights go down, you will never leave a legacy of influence. Lack of consistency and integrity will eventually undermine the public persona. Talent, education, experience and all of the rest of your resume is important but in the end, it is our character that makes or breaks us. Nothing is quite as important to success as developing our character.
Michael Hyatt’s recent writing confirmed my experience. He says character is shaped by three forces. If we want to develop our character, we need to give attention to each of them.
The Input We Consume. What are you reading, watching and listening to? Is it uplifting you and growing you? Watching endless hours of television, viewing pornography, or mindlessly ingesting the worst of popular culture, erodes character. It is crucial to be attentive to the input we consume. It affects us in deep and profound ways.
The Relationships We Pursue. Jim Rohn claims that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If this is true—and I’m convinced it is—we have to be more intentional about the people we choose to associate with. If you want to lose weight, hang with people who make good choices about diet and exercise. If you want a better marriage, socialize with people who have healthy ones. And of course, dissociate from people who reinforce your worst traits. “Bad company corrupts good character” according to the Bible (see 1 Corinthians 15:33).
The Habits We Acquire. I’m simply talking about the consistent ways we think, speak, and act in different situations. They are largely unconscious, which is what gives them their power—both positively and negatively. Good habits lead to good outcomes. Bad habits lead to poor outcomes.
If we develop the habit of praising our spouse in public, we get more of what we affirm. If we develop the habit of positive thinking, it can help us cope with challenges and difficulty. If we make healthy food choices, it can increase our energy, improve our productivity, and extend our lives. That’s why we have to be intentional about building good habits and breaking ourselves of bad ones.
Nothing should be of higher importance for developing effectiveness as leaders than the cultivation of our own character. Why? Because ultimately we will reproduce who we are—for good or for bad.
QUESTION: Are there any additional points you would add that you have found to shape character? Please share it below in the comment section.