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Why character is more important than charisma

Professional services consultant Richard Stupple explains why it is far more important to lead with character than with charisma.

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character versus charisma - what's more important to great leadership? Richard Stupple explains

Professional services firm management consultant Richard Stupple

"Without character, leadership becomes harder to sustain and you constantly have to perform to get people to notice you. However, with character, as time goes by, leadership strengthens, builds, and continues to attract people."

If you have charisma without character, it's only a matter of time before people will find you out. Without character you cannot sustain meaningful relationships, and without relationships your ability to lead and influence others is seriously diminished. So what is it about character that really makes a difference? Richard Stupple provides his opinions below:

1. Character sets you apart
There was a time when people who lacked integrity stood out from the crowd. Now the opposite is true- charisma can make people stand out for a moment, but character can set them apart for a lifetime.

2. Character is the basis for authentic leadership 
Authentic leadership requires honesty, transparency and demonstrating your own personal values – charisma is smoke and mirrors attempting to hide the true person.

3. Character creates trust 
Leadership functions only on the basis of trust. If you pull out trust, then you will lose your leadership foundation.

4. Character promotes excellence 
If you lead people, good character sets a standard for everyone who is following you. People will eventually become like their leader. If leaders compromise on their standards, cheat the company, or take shortcuts, so will their followers. Remember – monkey see, monkey do!

5. Character gives staying power 
During the tough times that all leaders face, character has the ability to carry you through, which is something that charisma can never do. When you are weary and inclined to quit, the self-discipline of character keeps you going.

6. Character extends influence 
Charisma, by its nature, doesn't last long or extend very far. It's like a flash of gunpowder - it produces a quick, blinding light, but then it's gone. The only thing left is smoke. Character, on the other hand, is more like a bonfire. Its effects are long-lasting. It produces warmth and light, and as it continues to burn it gets hotter, giving fuel that burns brighter.

If you're currently leading people, you probably have some measure of both charisma and character. The question is which one are you relying on to lead? The answer can be found in your response to this great question:

"As time goes by, does it get easier or harder to lead?"

Without character, leadership becomes harder to sustain and you constantly have to perform to get people to notice you. However, with character, as time goes by, leadership strengthens, builds, and continues to attract the people- and best of all, those who are attracted by your character will stay with you a lot longer than the ones who only want to see a show.

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If you would like to learn more about leading with character and developing authentic leadership in your firm, please contact Richard Stupple

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