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The Character of a Leader: If you want others to follow you, then you need to follow yourself FIRST.

Updated: Nov 6, 2019

"Character makes trust possible, and trust is the foundation of leadership" John C. Maxwell

The character of a leader is essential to determine whether others will follow or not. Good character implies many different aspects: TRUST, self-leadership, authenticity, humility and courage among others.





The trust factor is a non-negotiable when it comes to be invested in an organization, vision or idea. People follow leaders who are first trustworthy. A leader who shows good character does not only value TRUST as its first premise but it also improves every aspect of the organization. It is not sustainable to lead from a place of inauthenticity.


The development of a leader's character is not a destination, but rather an ongoing process., a journey. It is about making the commitment of always striving to get better and to be impecable with the words that are said daily.


Taking time to reflect on character will help a leader to assess their identity and create a plan for improvement:


Who do I say I am?
Who do I really am?
What do people say I am?
What are the gaps from where the leader is to where she or he wants to be?"

Self-reflection questions highten awareness and the need to keep improving character. This is specially true in leadership. The higher the influence of a leader the more momentum and impact they have on others, whether it is positive or negative.


Self-leadership is KEY when developing good character. Leading ourselves is the most difficult thing there is! It is easier to tell others what to do than to follow a command that we have given to ourselves. However, if we do not follow ourselves, who will? Healthy leaders adds value to themselves so they can add value to others.


"A man of character will make himslef worthy of any position he's given". Gandhi

When leaders improve their character it helps them become closer to what they desire.


John C. Maxwell suggests three ways that leaders can develop their character:


-Valuing people: Genuinely caring about others. In order to do this leaders need to believe in people and the value that they bring. Value cannot be added to people if it has not been established value on them first.


-Practice self-leadership: Are leaders following themselves first? Practicing the principle of being impeccable with the word and following the commands that they establish for themselves is one of the first things that leaders need to be able to do.


-Embracing good values: Reflecting on what values to prioritize is another task that leaders should perform. What are the 20 first values that are non-negotiables to a leader? Even when the greatest opportunity presents? To develop a strong character leaders need to develop strong values.


Character builds before on the inside than on the outside.

Next Step: Practical Application. Rate yourself in these questions from 1 to 10 (one being far from the truth and 10 being all the way YES).


-Am I who I say I am?

-Do I do what I say I will do?

-Would I be ok if someone from work comes to my house unexpectedly?

-Would I be ok if my family comes to visit to my workplace?


Then ask someone you love, a friend and a coworker to rate you on these. Take and apply feedback. Deal with the things that need to be improved, journal, embrace failure and learn from it!


This video will bring you more insights on how to continue to develop good character: https://youtu.be/3RMF-klflbY



To Your Success,



Leadership, Personal Growth Coach and Motivational Speaker with the John Maxwell Team

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