I haven’t been following the Oscar Pistorius trial till last week. I’ve looked at the headlines of papers. Listening to some highlights last week not only gave me a glimpse into the South African court system but also got me thinking about character…
The talk about character being critical for life and leadership is not new…
Before I move on, this is not about Oscar being guilty or not, it is just about how it got me thinking about this particular aspect of self leadership…
I was somewhat surprised at the extent to which the prosecution went into the past, specifically to do with character. Character evidence is something that can trip up any leader. Not just her character but endeavours by them.
Excuse my ignorance when it comes to legal matter, but something obvious to me was that the prosecution sought to expose Pistorious’ character as wanting, over a period of time.
The lesson is:
Character is proved over time and can only be proved in retrospect [Click to Tweet]
It is in examining people and, specifically leaders here, and their responses to varied circumstances over time. As these responses are examined patterns emerge.
For a great character record in the future you must build it with the time you have access to; the here and now. Unfortunately no leader can erase bad character of the past, in order to have a great one in the present.
Also, great character evidence has a lifespan. The only way to keep it alive and valid is tending to it daily. Again, nothing new:
Character is so fragile; it takes a lot of time, energy and intentionality to build but can be easily destroyed with carelessness. Character is a critical component of the currency of leadership [Click to Tweet].
In order to have no bad character issues or lies to defend in the future, or at anytime for that matter, be truthful always. Character haunts. It never leaves us.
We can only change character issues going forward and not by justifying the bad traits we’ve incubated or coddled in the past. Great leadership can only be as a result of a great core of self leadership. Put another way:
No leader can lead others greatly if they cannot greatly lead themselves [Click to Tweet]
Character is the centrepiece of credibility and every leader cannot undermine this, both in the present and future of their leadership. Great legacies are built on sustained tending of character intentionally over time.