Character and Leadership

People form their core life principles in different ways. Those who believe in the God of the Christian faith hold certain moral and theological principles as taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ. Many adopt their principles from other gods. Still others believe mankind defines such principles through experience and human reasoning.

Another word for principle is “value.” Whatever values people embrace become the foundation of their intentions and actions. People are judged by what they say and do as well as through what they don’t say and don’t do. To the extent that someone is consistent with his values he is judged as faithful; lack of consistency results in the dreaded label “hypocrite.”

“Many of us believe that wrongs aren’t wrong if it’s done by nice people like ourselves.” — Author Unknown

“Many a man’s reputation would not know his character if they met on the street.” — Elbert Hubbard

Clarity and commitment are important when it comes to principles. Being unsure or uncommitted to a principle makes decision-making more difficult.

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” — Roy Disney, executive

“Those are my principles. If you don’t like them I have others.” — Groucho Marx

When principles have a moral element the terminology is often changed to “character.” Having good character is defined as “consistently acting in accordance with good moral principles.”

“The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it.” — Norman Schwarzkopf

“The time is always right to do what is right.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Character is an indispensable part of leadership. Making the types of decisions leaders are expected to make is utterly dependent on the leader’s character. Good leadership proceeds from good character. Character is to leadership as hydrogen is to water. How many more ways can I say it? Good character is the foundation of leadership.

Good leaders not only gain followers because of their good character, they also pass on their legacy of good character. The result is a new generation of leaders.

“Let those who follow me continue to build with the plumb of honor, the level of truth, and the square of integrity, education, courtesy and mutuality.” — John Wanamaker

“Children are not casual guests in our home. They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built.” — Dr. James C. Dobson

Establishing strong moral character within the foundations of our personal and business relationships results in leaders who make a positive difference in this world. It doesn’t require a Ph.D. in compassion or a Master’s Degree in philanthropy or any special skill. Leadership potential lives within everyone.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” — Anne Frank

What it takes is a personal decision and a commitment to building character, from the inside out. Each decision moves one closer to or farther from the person he’s supposed to become. Decide today whom you will follow. Decide today to feed your mind every day. Decide today not to sacrifice integrity for convenience. Decide to be different so you can make a difference.

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright August 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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Leadership Potion?

“Men make history, and not the other way around.
In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still.
Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders
seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

— Harry S Truman

Fans of “The Munsters,” that old black & white show with Fred Gwynne as the lovable Herman Munster, may remember the dungeon, where Grandpa prepared magic potions. His concoctions, with ghastly ingredients such as eye of newt, could turn a person into almost anything. It’s a silly show. It makes an even sillier metaphor for this blog’s topic, leadership.

What ingredients are needed to transform an ordinary person into a good leader? I would start with ten parts character, a compound consisting of elements such as: integrity, courage, commitment, optimism, patience, compassion, desire, humility, loyalty and faith.

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.” — Ray Kroc

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” — Peter Drucker

Good character is the main ingredient of the leadership formula. Character produces desirable results such as inspiration, motivation, self esteem, justice and fairness. Character is what separates leaders from tyrants.

“Outstanding leaders appeal to the hearts of their followers – not their minds.” — Author Unknown

Next, I would add one part knowledge,

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy, from the speech prepared for delivery in Dallas the day of his assassination, November 22, 1963

one part imagination,

“Imagination gives you the picture. Vision gives you the impulse to make the picture your own.” — Robert Collier

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” — Steve Jobs

one part style/personality,

“You do not lead by hitting people over the head-that’s assault, not leadership.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.” — William Arthur Wood

and one part communication.

“Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.” — Stephen Covey, “The 8th Habit”

“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” — Harold Geneen, Chairman, ITT Corp.

The formula is potent even if the metaphor is weak.

How would a person determine if he was a leader? I heard someone suggest turning around. If no one is following, that person is not a leader.

“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” — Colin Powell

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and will to carry on.” — Walter J. Lippmann

A leader is not phony. People will eventually see right through someone who is a LINO (leader in name only.) True leadership is demonstrated and lived. Leaders bear some awesome responsibilities.

“A great leader never sets himself above his followers except in carrying responsibilities.” — Jules Ormont

“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” — Tom Peters

“He that would be a leader must be a bridge.” — Welsh Proverb

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” — Henry Kissinger

“Good leadership consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.” — John D. Rockefeller

Leaders demand of themselves a regimen of continuous improvement, especially regarding the character ingredient. While leaders will exercise discretion to accept or reject specific leadership roles, their leadership attributes are not an on-off switch. True leaders don’t say, “I think I’ll behave like a leader today and maybe next Friday, too.” In other words …

“There are no office hours for leaders.” — Cardinal James Gibbons

There is a shortage of good leaders. I’m inclined to say we are in the middle of a leadership drought at every level: our families, institutions, communities and our countries.

“Great necessities call forth great leaders.” — Abigail Adams

Who is prepared to step forward? Who is willing to answer the call?

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright July 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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Prepare for Life

“Be prepared.” — Boy Scouts’ Motto

It’s a simple instruction. A user’s manual might expand this admonishment as, “Be mentally, physically, and emotionally ready and properly equipped and outfitted to act or refrain from acting before, during or after something positive or negative does or does not occur.” The Boy Scouts said it better.

Being prepared begins with understanding what might happen and the potential consequences if it occurs. This is followed by making an appropriate plan.

“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” — Unknown

“It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret.”
— Jackie Joyner-Kersee

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Being prepared for battle, fire, sickness, recession, flood, lay-off, and the other negative stuff is only one part of the equation. It is equally important to be ready for opportunity.

“We are continually faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.” — John W. Gardner

“A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.”
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893 – 1986)

“It’s not the will to win that matters…everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” — Paul “Bear” Bryant

Planning and urgency go hand-in-hand. “Wait, I’m not ready!” is an ineffective response to the sudden appearance of either disaster or opportunity.

“But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.” — Bible, Matthew 24:43

“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.” — Napoleon Hill

“It is thrifty to prepare today for the wants of tomorrow.” — Aesop (620 BC – 560 BC), The Ant and the Grasshopper

“It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.” — Mark Twain

Responsible living is all about preparation. Many things will happen in the next moment, the next month, the next year, and in the next decade. The possibilities are both foreseen and unforeseen including vacation, relocation, separation, trepidation and expectation. That’s why the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared!”

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” — Colin Powell

P.S.  If the importance of professional development resonates in your heart and conscience, you might be interested in my on-line courses in one or more of these five areas: Productivity, Professionalism, Relationships, Leadership and Faith.  Click HERE for more information.


© Copyright July 2016, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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Easy Vs. Hard

The expression “work smart, not hard” is advice about efficiency by leveraging resources. It presumes that working smart leads to easier work. Efficiency and a lighter burden are always good goals as long as the easy way and hard way both lead to the same destination. The critical question when faced with an easy vs. hard choice is, “Do they really go to the same place?”

As human beings, the natural tendency is to pick the path of least resistance even when this is not expected to produce the best results. Always choosing easy over hard is based on near-term mindset. Instant gratification is an example that comes to mind. In the long run, we end up settling for far less in life if we make a habit of taking the easy path. Being one who is willing to consider and choose the more challenging path, whenever it makes long-term sense, requires a deep-seated commitment to the future.

“Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry, all things easy. He that rises late must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night, while laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him.” — Benjamin Franklin

“Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of.”
— Anonymous

Easy and Hard Can Be Matters of Perspective and Attitude

“Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

“There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly.” — Terence (185 BC – 159 BC)

“Attempt easy tasks as if they were difficult, and difficult as if they were easy; in the one case that confidence may not fall asleep, in the other that it may not be dismayed.” — Baltasar Gracian

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” — Winston Churchill

Difficulties Help Sharpen Our Axes

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.” — Seneca (5 BC – 65 AD)

“All things are difficult before they are easy.” — Dr. Thomas Fuller (1654 – 1734)

“If at first you DO succeed, try something harder.” — John C. Maxwell

Facing Difficulty Requires Courage

“It is surmounting difficulties that makes heroes.” — Louis Pasteur, microbiologist

“Courage and perseverance have a magic talisman, before which difficulties and obstacles vanish into air.” — John Adams

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” — Sam Ewing

Dealing With Difficulty

“Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves.” — Dale Carnegie

“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.” — Phillips Brooks (1835 – 1893)

Finally, always remember the words of Edward R. Murrow:

“Difficulty is the excuse history never accepts.”

God Bless,

— CC

© Copyright July 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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