By Rodger Price
There are many effective ways to lead, and leaders all have a unique design when it comes to ability and potential. Some great leaders do it through their high energy and engaging personalities. Others do it through careful planning and significant investment in the people who choose to follow them. Still others do it through sheer determination and dogged persistence.
The key to enhancing your own leadership effectiveness is to understand your style and build upon your leadership strengths. Your character makes you who you are, and consists of traits that are very difficult to transfer from one person to another. This is why if you aren’t living an authentic version of yourself—if you are pretending to be someone else—success will not be easy or sustainable.
Understanding Your Character
Leading effectively involves understanding the six areas of your inner character, almost like cards in a poker hand. When you recognize and combine them in a way that will optimize your ability to influence others, then you hold the winning hand.
As a bonus, when you find work that aligns well with the things you believe about the world (beliefs), asks you to focus on what you believe is important (values), and uses the abilities that you are especially good at (gifts), then you will be leading from your sweet spot. You will be leading by your design.
Here are the six basic aspects of every person’s character:
1. Beliefs: What you know is true about the world but can’t prove to others.
Your beliefs are one of the most important aspects of your character. One of the ways to explore this area is to pay attention to what you do. For example, if you tend to take risks in most areas of your life, this suggests that you believe risk is usually a good thing. It would be wise, therefore, to be a leader in an area that rewards risk taking, rather than work in an area where risk is fought.
In another example, if you tend to trust people without knowing very much information about them, this suggests that you believe most people are trustworthy. In this case, you should work in a field where trust is rewarded, rather than a field where suspicion of others’ motives is rewarded, such as an insurance adjuster.
2. Values: What is most important to you.
An easy way to identify what is most important to you is to prioritize a list of common values that most people have. Examples would be timeliness, cleanliness, creativity, and manners. Most of us would agree that all four of these values are good to have, but how do these four rank to you personally? When I work with clients, I have a list of over 120 characteristics that most people value, and then I ask people to identify their top five. This information tells me a great deal about a person.
It’s also important to identify the difference between preferred values (what you say you most value) and actual values (what your behaviors reveal to those around you). For example, you might say you value “family” in your top five, but your calendar and the time you spend with your family would suggest otherwise.