Does Character Mean More Than Experience in Obtaining a Leadership Role?

In sifting through my Google filter on leadership and public speaking postings today, a letter to the editor about our next great presidential race got me thinking

“What will help you reach a dream leadership role faster: your experience, or, your character?”

Having both helps to seal the deal. But, how do you get “there” when you don’t have the experience?

For example, I’ve noticed that people hiring a new leader, say VP of some division, may not hire someone who was VP of that type of division at another company (maybe due to the price tag of hiring someone away from a great job), but instead a manager or director who is aspiring to be in that role and has the character to fill the VP shoes with a bit more elbow grease.

From this perspective, is your character at work and in your professional networks outside of the office positioning you for that next career move? Here are some things to think about to ensure your character glows so that you are ready to seize the next opportunity that comes by, so you don’t miss it.

1. What Do You Mean By “Character”?
What is meant here are the characteristics you display to others that make who you are you from the perspective of leading others. You most likely have a number of wonderful characteristics and a few, you or others may perceive, as negative traits that make up your overall character.

Many have written about “what characteristics make up a great leader” and I boil these down to the following:

  • Honesty
  • Passion
  • Discipline
  • Courage
  • Competence
  • Creativity
  • Visionary
  • Inspriational

2. Are You In Touch With Your Positive and Negative Leadership Traits?
Out of the above set of leadership characteristics, which do you feel you are great at, and, which do you believe others see you being great at?

3. Are You Wearing Your Traits On Your Sleeve?
Even though you believe you are great at say 6 leadership characteristics, what if your colleagues only see you flex your muscle at 3 of them? Find opportunities to show how you glow in all areas – how others perceive you are as a leader is only via how they observe you.

4. Turn A Negative Into a Positive
Is there a trait you believe you are weak at? Find 2-3 things you could over the next month to improve that trait and show others you are good in that area. Weave it into your routine somewhere such that you get to show that trait to others once a month.

5. Keep A List of Leadership Traits With You At All Times
Many of us have little tools to remind us of things we should weave into our day – why not post a leadership character list next to your computer at the office as a conscienous reminder that your peers and team are always looking up to you?

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