I took a new position for a large corporation one time in my career. I felt excited to get started doing work that I really love. I had known my new manager for a couple of years prior to accepting the position and although I knew a few others that didn’t get along with him well, I felt we had a good working relationship.
He was a confident individual with the ability to command attention in a room or a meeting. He seemed to know what he was talking about most of the time which led me to believe that I was in the right department. He was also generous when it came to doing things he wanted to do. Several times he paid for me and others in the department to play golf with him. On the surface, it seemed like things were going to work out great.
After being in the department for a few months I realized that what I thought was confidence turned out to be narcissism. Although his strength of being confident played well for him in meetings, it turned out to be a weakness when it came to his leadership effectiveness.
Here is a quick example: I was working on a project and was waiting on information from another department to complete the project when I found out that I had missed out on some development meetings. To be more specific, my manager attended those development meetings and didn’t bother to tell me about them. He kept that information “close to the vest.” The problem was that I was the one that needed the information to do my job and should have been in the meetings, not him.
Over time, I began to notice more narcissistic behavior: controlling, not considering others’ opinions and framing many conversations around himself. Although his personality was great, it was his core character that impeded my ability to do my job, enjoy my job and eventually was the reason I went to another department.
There is a difference between personality and character. Personality is at the surface level while one’s character goes to the core. Character has a much bigger impact on one’s actions and therefore is much more important than personality. While a great personality can be an asset, it is one’s character that has the most impact on their leadership. A simple way to say it is your character is the cake while your personality is the icing. People are more focused on the type of cake than the icing.
As a financial professional, if you had a great personality, always smiling and inviting, cracking jokes and being the “life of the party,” but were not honest with your clients or in your work, you would eventually be found out for who you really are. You would not be in business for long and would be made to suffer the consequences of those actions. On the other hand, you could practically be socially inept but known for your honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, truthfulness and selflessness and you would have a loyal following. People put trust in others based on their character, not their personality.
In my book, Character Driven Leadership, I discuss the principles of developing a character driven leader and the character traits that will drive leaders to accomplish five major business objectives: making good decisions, getting things done, being honorable, engagement and motivation.
Character driven leadership is about knowing how one’s character impacts their leadership. By knowing the principles involved in leading with good character, every leader can choose the outcome of their actions; they are able to see the correlation between who they are, their actions and the corresponding reactions of everyone around them.
Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your character is the first step in becoming a great leader. When we improve on our character then our actions that align with our character will improve accordingly. Therefore, we can choose our outcomes by choosing to embody good character.
In the next two articles, I will compare the differences between personality and character, how one’s character impacts their leadership and the leadership development triangle.
In addition, if you would like to go into depth on this topic and learn how you can become a great leader, join me at Scaling New Heights 2016 on Wednesday at 2pm for the session titled, “Character Driven Leadership.” During that session, we will discuss this topic in depth as well as give attendees the tools for becoming a Character Driven Leader.
Jeff Edmonds - Author, Character Driven Leadership
Jeff began his career in the financial software industry in 1999 with Lacerte Tax Software, just
after it was purchased by Intuit. As an Intuit Account Manager, Jeff was able to consult with both large and small accounting firms. He has also worked and trained alongside QuickBooks ProAdvisors for almost 17 years. After leaving Intuit, Jeff worked for Mendelson Consulting in Business Development and most recently, for Acctivate in Channel Development.
Jeff’s passion, by far, is in training and development. Since his role at Intuit, Jeff has traveled to numerous conferences speaking and training on leadership development, business development and financial software products. His recent book, Character Driven Leadership, was written for leaders who desire to maximize their leadership effectiveness based on the principles of human character. In his book, Jeff describes the process by which leaders make decisions and the relationship between a leader’s character and his or her success. This book is the foundation on which Jeff bases his training workshops and speaking engagements.