Character and Leadership

 Jeff Maxfield

Friendships and marriage based on character rather than just personality, are much more likely to be long lasting.  Character-based relationships provide more meaning and direction in our lives.  Selecting those leaders we want to follow should also be based on strong character.
How is it possible to measure someone’s character?  I would like to share some of the principles I’ve found that demonstrate good character.  While these are not all inclusive of the desirable traits, they illustrated some attributes to look for in those we choose to associate with.

Hope and Faith
Hope is a very important character trait.  A person who believes in him/herself, as well as others, and has faith in the future will lead people in a positive direction.
It is extremely depressing to be around someone who has a negative outlook or is cynical about almost everything.  Most people avoid this kind of person.  After hours of listening to a person’s negative pronouncements, even the strongest person can become discouraged.

Vision goes hand-in-hand with hope, because someone with hope for the future usually has an idea of what the future should look like.  Vision is often perceived as a lofty and nebulous idea that seems almost unreachable.  Still, if you don’t reach for the stars, you’ll never get to the moon.

In order to attain his/her personal vision, a good leader will have perseverence.  Being a leader and staying focused is not easy.  Human nature does not accept change very well and it is normal for people to want to cling to what feels comfortable.  If a person lacks perseverence he/she can be swayed from inner beliefs for the sake of expediency or popularity.  This compromises the vision.

A person of strong character knows that others may not see or understand important things quickly as he/she can, or may not see the importance of maintaining a principle centered life.  This requires patience in order to allow others the opportunity to learn and grow at their own pace or in their own way.

 A person of strong character really cares about those with whom they associate.  They usually communicate this concern and compassion in both words and deeds.  They understand the need for “affective” relationships as well as “effective.”  The action is usually expressed in, “What can I do for you?” as opposed to “How can you help me?”

These are very important characteristics.  Good associates or companions are trustworthy.  People usually will not associate with someone unless they know that if things don’t go smoothly or if obstacles pop up, that their friend/mate will deal with the problem ethically rather than run off and leave everyone hanging.
This does not mean that this person should cave in to other’s desires or whims to avoid conflict.  It simply means that they must stand firm in righteousness without maligning or condemning others.  This requires a balancing act at times, but strong people can accomplish it.

One of the greatest qualities anyone can possess is humility.  Having knowledge is important, but being open to learning is equally so.
No person can be expected to know all or be all.  A strong person realizes this and encourages those around him/her to reach their highest potential, learning from each of them in the process.
He/she must recognize there is more than one way to create strong relationships.  Without humility a person may become blinded to the best and most fulfilling way to accomplish this.

In today’s fast paced world of glamour and glitter, we are surrounded by people and things that try to make us think that fame beauty and fortune are the panaceas of happiness and fulfillment.  Yet, have you ever stopped to wonder why so many famous people have lives filled with disappointment and pain?  Their divorce rate is higher than the average and they have many tragic problems with their children.  True fulfillment and happiness is not found in personality, but rather in character.  You should pick the people they want to have relationships with by looking at their character first.  Once you have determined them to have good character, then personality can enter into the equation.  However, the most important consideration is to become the same type of person you are looking for.  Building and maintaining good character for yourself will attract the type of people you seek for relationships.
 I hope that the qualities shared in this article may help you to be more aware of the importance of character in your life; not just in others but also in yourself.  Integrity with your core values will help to make you life much more rewarding and your relationships satisfying.

Jeff Maxfield is president of Maximum Performance, L.C., a consulting firm speicalizing in Leadership, Ethics, and Personal Development.  He has a Master's Degree from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Management and is a retired Assistant Chief of a large metropolitan fire department.  Jeff currently lives in Draper, Utah with his wife and four children.

For more information about the classes and services offered by Maximum Performance, L.C., please write or call:

            Maximum Performance, L.C.
            P.O. Box 144
            Draper, Utah  84020
            (801)201-2591 -- Fax (801)5713054

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