Character Revealed

Businessman taking oath.Is your personal character showing?

You may not think so, but it is. It shows with every plan, decision, and action you make. Your character is obvious to those who observe you, who hear you, and who are impacted by your words, behaviors, and interactions.

A recent sports story made headlines when a talented football player’s passionate interview immediately after a great play placed him – and his bravado – in the spotlight.

He touted his skills – not his team mates. He discounted the opposing team’s player, calling him “mediocre.”

The backlash was severe. The next day, the player wrote, “Don’t judge a person’s character by what they do between the lines. Judge a man by what he does off the field, what he does for his community, what he does for his family.”

I don’t think we have a choice of when, where, or how others judge our character. We do what we do – and others see it, judge it, and come to conclusions about our character because of it.

I think we’re “on duty” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can’t compartmentalize our “in character” actions or our “out of character” actions; I believe it’s all a part of our character.

“Time out! I want to behave badly for a few minutes!”

I had a boss once that had a fiery temper. When things didn’t go as he expected, he’d yell, slam doors, call us names, and generally pitch a fit. After one such demonstration, he came back in to us and said, “I apologize. That tantrum was entirely out of character for me.”

My team mates and I shared quick, disbelieving glances with each other. His tantrum wasn’t out of character – it was a core part of his chosen pattern of behaviors. It was entirely within his character, as we experienced it daily.

To be more intentional with your character, clarify your #BestSelf by defining your personal purpose and values. Define your values in observable, tangible behaviors. Then align your behaviors, every moment, to your purpose and values.

How do others see your character? The only way to find out is to ask. Invite feedback, asking “What behaviors do I use that serve you well, that you’d like me to keep doing?” and “What behaviors inhibit your performance or engagement, that you’d like me to quit doing?” and “What new behaviors would you like to see from me that would boost your performance and engagement?”

You’ll learn a great deal. Thank people for their feedback. Refine your behaviors to serve better and reduce behaviors that erode performance and engagement.

Continue to ask for feedback – at least twice a year. Continue to thank people for their feedback. Continue to refine your behaviors.

Do that enough and you might find yourself seen as a person of high character, every minute.

What do you think? How do you manage your character? Where do you stumble in being in your desired, best character every day? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

Get your free copy of my ChangeThis manifesto, “What? Your Organization Doesn’t Have a Constitution?

Add your experiences to two fast & free research projects I have underway. The Great Boss Assessment compares your current boss’ behaviors with those of great bosses. The Performance-Values Assessment compares your organization’s culture practices to those of high performing, values-aligned organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

My new book from Wiley, The Culture Engine, guides leaders to create workplace inspiration with an organizational constitution. Get your free sample chapter here.

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