99% of All Leadership Failures Are a Result of This

“Achievement to most people is something you do….to the high achiever, it is something you are.” Doug Firebaugh

What is the most admired quality of leadership? Is it passion, focus, communication, vision, or drive? All of those are great answers, but the according to leadership authors, James Kouzes and Barry Posner, the quality most admired is honesty.

They write, “In almost every survey conducted, honesty has been selected more often than any other leadership characteristic.”

We all want to work with and for competent people, but without character, competency is futile.

Have you ever worked with someone that was brilliant, but you couldn’t trust? If so, how did that work out?

Retired general Norman Schwarzkopf stated, “Ninety-nine percent of leadership failures are failures of character.”

I believe that we focus too much time on competence and not enough on character.

In fact, what normally appears to be a competency issue is often a character issue. Early on my insurance career I spent very little time in developing my character. From the outside world, I looked strong and confident, but deep down I was struggling due to poor choices I was making. Instead of studying, I was partying. Instead of preparing, I was relaxing. My business struggles where not due to my lack of competency, but rather do to a lack of character.

Some people might say, “He is not doing enough”, but the reality was that I was not being enough. There is a difference.

Are you more concerned with how you look on the outside or who you are on the inside?

My mentor says, “Our reputation comes from what others believe about our outside. Our character represents who we are on the inside.”

Our inside influences our outside

You can’t fool your unconscious mind. Belief drives behavior. As the Proverb says, “As we think in our hearts, so we become.”

Just like feeding your body junk on the inside leads to a less healthy looking exterior, feeding your mind junk leads to a less healthy character.

Here’s the best news, our inside character is completely within our control.

My first personal growth mentor Jim Rohn said this, “Character is a quality that embodies many important traits such as integrity, courage, perservearance, confidence, and wisdom. Unlike your fingerprints that you were born with and can’t change, character is something that you can create within yourself and must take responsibility for changing.”

Growing and reaching your potential is hard work. Not just in what we do every day, but in who we are every day.

I challenge you to spend some time to assess your character development. Where are you spending the majority of your time, working on the outside or the inside? How can you not only do more, but be more?

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