Today I want to return to the real touchstone of inspirational leadership. It has nothing to do with skills; but it is the ground from which all the skills must take root.
I speak of character. The word itself connotes something positive. When we speak of someone as a `person of character`, it immediately brings to mind the qualities that we admire. Honesty, integrity, accountability, passion, patience, transparency, humility...and more.
Character is built as it is learned. Most often it has been tested and tried over time before it becomes a core value of the individual. But once there, it is almost impossible to move.
A great teacher and coach, John Wooden, said "...reputation is what others think of you; character is what you really are..."
You know from personal experience, that you are much more likely to respect the person of character over the person of superior skills. In my experience I have often not even noticed a lack of skill in a leader of character. But I have most definitely noticed the lack of character in a skillful leader.
While both character and skill are found in the most successful inspirational leaders, if you must aspire to one or the other first, always choose character. Character moves with you regardless of your vocation; regardless of your level of responsibility; regardless of anything, because it is who you are. Skills may not be nearly as transferable and must be continually upgraded to keep current.
In today's vernacular we hear the terminology, 'emotional intelligence'. It speaks to the need of a leader to have empathy and to respond to another's emotional state in providing leadership. But that comes up far short of our expectations...empathy being only one of the traits of a mature leader of character.
This is not rocket science. Unfortunately we continue to have too many in positions of responsibility who choose the 'commander-in-chief' model as a cover for a lack of character.
First take a look around...then take a look in the mirror. Now choose the type of leader you will be.