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Why is Character So Important to Being a Successful Leader?

By Joane Ramsey  |  April 29, 2019

Have you ever worked for a manager or leader who contradicted their instructions? Does your leadership team's management execution align with the organization's vision and mission expectations? In Episode 19 of the Strategic Insights Podcast, Joane Ramsey and Andrea McOwen share why character is so important to being a successful leader.

Joane Ramsey: 00:01 Hello and welcome to Strategic Insights brought to you by Strategic Enhancement Group. I'm Joanne Ramsey, Senior Performance Consultant with Strategic Enhancement Group and today I'm joined by Andrea McOwen, our President, to discuss why character is an important quality in a leader. We'll define character and what thats look like in a leader and explore the impact that a leader's character has on an organization. Welcome Andrea.

Andrea McOwen: 00:31 Thanks. I'm happy to be here.

Joane Ramsey: 00:33 Andrea, can you define for us how we define character?

Andrea McOwen: 00:36 Sure. Character is the philosophy, beliefs, values, and sense of purpose that guides a leader in determining who they want to be as a leader. It gives leaders their identity. It presents itself in those elements of leadership that are enduring and core to how people view their purpose of leadership.

Joane Ramsey: 00:55 Isn't that so true? And in today's world we are faced with a global leadership crisis. One may ask the question, why is character so important to being a successful leader? We can answer that question by saying that character provides the foundation that makes a leader's skills effective in the context of how they lead their organization. It's like riding a bike. The back wheel represents management skills used to provide structures such as directing, delegating, providing feedback would fall in that category. The front wheel represents the character of leadership. It provides the vision, the direction, inspiration. Both wheels are equally important and unfortunately many times the front wheel is ignored, which then becomes a unicycle.

Andrea McOwen: 01:45 Yes, that's true and this becomes even more important for executive leaders to understand who they are as leaders. They're responsible for the consistency of communication, action, integrity and transparency. They are the example for other leaders and employees to follow. Character sets a foundation for the organization's culture, dynamics and success. It can be the difference between achieving your strategic goals or not.

Joane Ramsey: 02:12 So true. We have seen some truly inspirational leaders whose character sets a strong foundation for the organization's success. One example that comes to mind is a leader at one of our clients. She is clear about what the company's values are and makes sure that everyone in the organization is clear as well. She has courageous conversations with her team asking for feedback and providing feedback. She fosters a customer first culture that directs all initiatives and strategies.

Andrea McOwen: 02:45 That's a good example. There's another one. We have another client who promotes the "Do what is right" philosophy within the entire company. Many times they can find themselves up against the wall making a decision between doing the right thing and perhaps costing the company money. His leadership in this situation is "Always do the right thing", we will never regret it.

Joane Ramsey: 03:06 So amazing. Leaders who are clear what their values are and have clarity of purpose are able to create an environment in which employees feel valued, engaged, and committed to executing strategies. Things are accomplished, people are fulfilled, turnover is low, and productivity is high. This is truly inspirational, isn't it?

Andrea McOwen: 03:29 It is. And there's another thing we need to consider. With all the talk of Millennials, the next largest group joining the workforce, they have a focus on doing work that matters. This is when living with character becomes paramount to retention and fulfillment, which in turn leads to greater productivity and even better profits.

Joane Ramsey: 03:51 And sometimes it's not so easy for a leader to articulate what they value or what their Purpose is. How can they discover and articulate those questions so they can help explicitly guide their actions?

Andrea McOwen: 04:06 We've been able to work with our clients to help them understand, articulate and operationalize their values, focus and purpose. It's a fun and enlightening process.

Joane Ramsey: 04:15 It truly is. The upside of being led by someone with character is far greater than a leader who still hasn't figured out who they are. Finding who you are, who you want to be as a leader and being clear on your values, purpose and beliefs is critical for success as a leader in the world today. Have you taken the time to figure out who you are as a leader? Thank you Andrea, for joining us today and thank you everyone for listening. If you would like to learn more or have any questions, please contact us.

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Joane Ramsey

Senior Performance Improvement Consultant

A native of Brazil, Joane first came to the U.S. as a foreign exchange student with AFS. She returned to Brazil where she successfully ran and sold two different businesses. Returning to the US in 1992, Joane put her business ownership experience to work with a small manufacturing company running the day-to-day operations and facilitating sales with South American companies. She joined SEG in 1999, where her experience has helped her clients get the results they desired. Joane has a B.S. degree in business management from North Central College, where she majored in international business and Spanish.

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