Character and Integrity versus Credentials

I’ve started reading John C. Maxwell’s “How to Influence People” and just wanted to document one of the first chapter’s points around credentials versus character.

In ancient times, brick makers, engravers, and other artisans used a symbol to mark the things they created to show that they were the makers. The symbol that they used was their “Character.” For the character to be considered in high esteem, the value of the work was taken into account as well as the skill in the making of it. You would therefore be recognised and rewarded for delivering high value and high skill pieces of work and get higher positions. He mentions that some people gain influence and “power” by the credentials they then receive – like being promoted and therefore have more “influence”.

I’ve seen people being promoted that have no character, integrity or influence that I would consider, and I’ve seen the inverse also. As I continue in my career I think my focus is and always has been on my integrity – sometimes to my detriment by being too honest! However, I would rather craft my integrity and influence based on character than play the games, deceive people and potentially get to positions of power and influence based on this deceit.

I think too often people focus on the titles and what it will get them. This devalues the title when it’s received and may demotivate people when they arrive at the title asking themselves – “is this it?” I reckon that people who focus on the journey rather than the title as the destination appreciate the title more, it represents their work, their time and effort applied.

I think a different focus is delivering so much value and serving so many people that the titles automatically appear. It goes back to Robin Sharma’s book, “The Leader Who Had No Title.”

I think too often people think title = leader. If you get the title, then you’re automatically going to get followers, influence and respect. I think the focus should be the other way around – focus on leading first, and then get the titles to represent this. (If titles are what’s important to you.)

Leading can only truly come from people with high levels of character and integrity. I would never follow someone who didn’t display character or a clear sense of who they are and what they stand for. Leaders are clear on their purpose – clear on their WHY. And this is why it’s so hard to discover true leaders. Too often they’re muddled with WHAT they have to do to get where they want to get to, rather than being clear on WHY they want it in the first place.

How can you lead today? What elements of your character are you proud of and which need to be reviewed and amended slightly? What do you in front of people that you don’t do in private? How do you carry yourself in private that when people are looking you do differently? Do you treat people differently depending on other people watching you?

What can you do today that you would be proud to have your “character” branded on it? Who could you serve today as a representation of your character?

What would you like to happen in 2017 that you would be proud to then say “I did that”? Imagine stamping your character on your achievements – do they represent who you are?

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