Practical Tips to Raise Up and Inspire Future Business Leaders – Part Three
In our series, Raising Up Leaders, we raise the issue that the majority of any influential leader’s job is to develop new leaders. This process of raising up future business leaders is vital to any organization’s long-term success
In part one we discussed a leader’s responsibility to inspire future business leaders and influence the potential of the people on their team. Then, in part two we explored the obstacles that stall our ability to grow other leaders. For this article, let’s dive deeper into what you should focus on when selecting which future business leaders to invest your valuable time and energy on.
First, a question to ask:
Which of these is the most important quality for a future business leader to possess?
If you answered character, you are correct.
Character is the bedrock foundation upon which all great leaders build. While the potential leader will by no means be flawless, character is the number one determinant of a truly great leader.
Character is Forged Over a Lifetime
A person does not wake up one morning with strong character. It is birthed in childhood, shaped by life and practiced over time in the crucible of life. Theologian N.T. Wright writes:
“Virtue, in this strict sense, is what happens when someone has made a thousand small choices, requiring effort and concentration, to do something which is good and right but which doesn’t ‘come naturally’—and then, on the thousand and first time, when it really matters, they find that they do what’s required ‘automatically,’ as we say.”
Character is a Through-and-Through Quality
Character is more than acting a certain way. That is an expression of character, but it is not the core of character. The qualities that build character are not merely surface presentations.Character is built at the heart level. Someone with true character does the right thing, even when no one else is looking.
There is an English candy maker whose candy is unique. An ordinary piece of candy doesn’t have writing or a brand stamp that is prevalent through the entire piece of candy. That ordinary piece of candy in your mouth becomes unbranded the moment you begin eating it. Not the case, however, with Brighton candy. This famous British seaside candy maker creates their candy with the Brighton stamp still visible even after the candy is almost entirely eaten. Such is the same with character. It either goes all the way through an individual or not at all.
Character is Composed of Many Qualities
I recently came across this list of 25 character qualities. Take a moment to reflect on these qualities. Then, to help you determine a potential leader’s character, view real-life situations or create some hypothetical situations and see what character traits the potential leader exhibits in their responses.
Attentiveness | Showing the worth of a person or task by giving my undivided concentration.
Benevolence | Giving to other’s basic needs without having personal reward as my motive.
Boldness | The confidence that what I say or do is true, right and just.
Compassion | Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others.
Creativity | Approaching a need, task or an idea from a new perspective.
Decisiveness | The ability to recognize key factors and finalize difficult decisions.
Dependability | Fulfilling what I consented to do, even if it means unexpected sacrifice.
Determination | Purposing to accomplish right goals at the right time, regardless of the opposition.
Endurance | The inward strength to withstand stress and do my best.
Enthusiasm | Expressing joy in each task as I give it my best effort.
Faith | Confidence that actions rooted in good character will yield the best outcome, even when I cannot see how.
Flexibility | Willingness to change plans or ideas according to the direction of my authorities.
Forgiveness | Clearing the record of those who have wronged me while not holding a grudge.
Generosity | Carefully managing my resources so I can freely give to those in need.
Humility | Acknowledging that achievement results from the investment of others in my life.
Initiative | Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before I’m asked to do it.
Justice | Taking personal responsibility to uphold what is pure, right, and true.
Loyalty | Using difficult times to demonstrate my commitment to those I serve.
Resourcefulness | Finding practical uses for what others would overlook or discard.
Responsibility | Knowing and doing what is expected of me.
Self-Control | Rejecting wrong desires and doing what is right.
Sincerity | Eagerness to do what is right with transparent motives.
Truthfulness | Earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts.
Virtue | The moral excellence evident in my life as I consistently do what is right.
Wisdom | Seeing and responding to life situations from a perspective that transcends my current circumstances.
Telling the truth regardless of the consequence is foundational to all human relationships. If trust is broken, having volumes of charisma or persuasiveness accomplishes nothing. The Keller Influence Indicator provides a measure of character with trustworthiness as the bedrock trait.
Raising Up Future Business Leaders with Character
You are charged with raising up future business leaders. Start by assessing character. If character is lacking, approach with caution knowing this potential leader is going to take a long time to develop, because character is built over a lifetime. Changing character after it has been entrenched, however, is extremely difficult to do without a radical event or experience to shake a person to their core. Therefore, in attempting to change character, you will be required to undo years of negative practice.
A potential leader with strong character but lacking in competence is much easier to “fix” with some strategic coaching. Charisma, while a moderately challenging growth point, is still far easier to repair than poor character. If you witness a lack of character, consider this a red flag. This might not be the future business leader in whom to invest your valuable time, budget and energy.
Influential leaders understand the needs of those they lead and they do it with authenticity, courage, and passion. The bottom line is that character is what influential leaders lead with.
In the next article in this series on Raising Up Leaders we’ll continue to look at how competence and charisma add to the foundation of character.