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High Character Leaders

Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50 percent of your time leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct.

Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus VISA International


A lot of focus in the business community today is on how to lead people and how to lead within an organization.  And this focus has led to a plethora of training and educational materials about leadership.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs rely on access to this training and educational material.  With time at a premium, they must be careful in selecting what leadership and management skills they need to focus on.  The choices of leadership and management skills are quite extensive.

One leadership skill that is often neglected is to learn how to lead yourself.

That’s right.  It’s extremely difficult to lead anyone, let alone an entire organization, if you cannot lead yourself.

Leading yourself means becoming a high character leader.

High Character Leadership

High character leaders are the business leaders you don’t know.   The reason you don’t know them is that they are not seeking the spotlight.  You certainly know their brands and their company’s accomplishments, but the leaders themselves understand that the business they lead is not about them.

High character leaders are humble company stewards who understand that it is the staff and the front-line workers who make things happen.  They have an unwavering set of core values that direct everything they say and do.

They know how to speak and, more importantly, how to listen.  Generosity is foundational in how they treat their employees and how they manage success.

Most importantly, high character leaders’ companies are the ones consistently beating the market, rolling out new products, and delivering unquestionably exceptional service, year after year.  Their businesses are not roller-coaster rides but are systematic, well-planned growth patterns designed to benefit the stakeholders, the employees, and their communities.

How to Develop High Character Leadership

High character leadership is about leading yourself.  Here are several character traits that when developed will lead to becoming a high character leader.

  • Focus on self-control. Great leaders are emotionally intelligent, patient, and calm under pressure. There is no point in overreacting or allowing emotions to dictate words or actions.
  • Seekers of truth. Honesty is the foundation of exceptional leadership. Every action and decision is about seeking and living in the truth. Great leaders prefer to hear or to tell a tough and painful truth over giving or receiving a comforting mistruth. Leaders must guide their rational thought process to examine all the facts of any situation.
  • Place courage over fear. Exceptional leaders have developed mastery over their fears by training themselves not to regress under stress. Emotions must be controlled, and hardships viewed as tests to be won.
  • Empathy towards self and others. Exceptional leaders are naturally empathic. Their experiences have taught them to accept and understand another’s perception. Empathy is never mistaken for weakness. It is the one emotion that fosters an authentic connection between a great leader and those they are around.
  • Maintain and nurture their reputation. The most powerful way to influence others is to have a solid reputation. Great leaders understand their reputation is their most valuable asset. People are drawn to those they love and respect, and who possess flawless levels of personal integrity. They also understand that their reputation can be lost in a single thoughtless instant.

The Bible

There are many high character leaders in the business world, although you must work to find them because they are too busy leading their businesses to be found in the pages of the business literature today.

The Bible is an even better source to find high character leaders.  Many who are not familiar with reading Bible stories are surprised to discover that the high character leaders of the Bible are real people with histories of failures and lapses of judgment.

Moses, Jacob, David, Solomon, Samuel, and Daniel all developed their leadership skills through tests and hardships—and ultimately discovered God as the source of their character.

Each business leader needs to aspire to be a high character leader.  To be a high character leader requires you to know how to lead yourself in all circumstances.  Leading yourself is tough, and the best place to learn about leading yourself is from the Bible. 

Read 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel,1 Kings, and 2 Kings to get a taste of what leading yourself is like.