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Character: A Leader’s Most Important Quality

By Mark Cole | April 11, 2024
Character: A Leader’s Most Important Quality

Character is every leader’s most important quality. And like any quality, it can be developed.

With each choice that you make, you are creating your character:

  • To bend the truth, or to bear the weight of it.
  • To avoid the pain, or to persevere through it.
  • To seek comfort, or to seek growth.

Adversity doesn’t guarantee to develop character, but it does always reveal it. When a leader faces any setback, crisis, or obstacle, he or she will be met with a decision between two paths: character or compromise. And every time character is the choice, that leader will grow stronger.

I’m reminded of Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.”

Today, I’m going to share four keys to developing character that John Maxwell has taught for years. I practice these keys regularly, and they have helped me develop my own character. I believe if you apply them as well, you will see your character grow as well as your people’s trust in you.


What are the areas of your life that are most important to you? Areas like your marriage, work, family, etc. Now, within those areas, identify things that you have compromised or corners that you have cut. This might be a difficult and even painful experience, but I promise it’s worth it. Searching for these cracks in your life is the first step to developing character.


Ok—let’s take it a step deeper now. Looking for patterns will help you identify the root cause behind the cracks in your life. What are the particular areas where there is a problem or weakness that consistently surfaces? Ask yourself when this usually takes place and why. What thought patterns are actively working against you and your character development?


In almost every circumstance when character is lacking, casualties are not! Unfortunately, this includes relationships being hurt, strained, or even ended. If you want to grow, at some point you will have to face your mistakes or flaws and deal with the consequences head on. After finding cracks and patterns, take some time to identify the people in your life that you need to apologize to. This is the beginning of character repair.


Now it’s time to build a new future. Now that you’ve identified areas of weakness that need to improve, and you’ve dealt with the consequences, the next step is to create a plan that will move you in a new direction. Don’t forget this, leader: change is possible! You can do this! But you need a plan. Spend some time writing down new patterns and routines that will help you develop character. Be sure to focus especially on new ways to think positively, better ways to serve others, and opportunities to practice gratitude. Why those things specifically? Because our thoughts determine our actions, our people determine our success, and our attitudes determine our perspective. 

The truth is that anyone can talk about having integrity, but the only true indicator of character is action.

John Maxwell says, “Your character determines who you are. Who you are determines what you see. What you see determines what you do. That’s why you can never separate a leader’s character from his or her actions.”

Character is a choice! Let’s be leaders who choose better character. And let’s start today!

Are you developing your character daily?

Don’t let your greatest asset fall by the wayside. Every day, you’re presented with choices that define the quality of your leadership. Prepare yourself to choose character with John Maxwell’s upcoming release, High Road Leadership. Discover 11 ways effective leaders bring people together and inspire them to achieve positive results together. Click here to preorder the book today before its release on May 7th and receive $299 in bonuses.

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