Becoming a Character Based Leader

by  Chery Gegelman  |  Workplace Issues

Character Based Leadership is the conscious choice to be an Ambassador – To place the greater good, the purpose of the organization and the needs of others above your own desires.

It starts with a decision to lead with integrity, the understanding that everything you do is observed and evaluated by others as either authentic or as disingenuous, and the commitment to audit yourself:

  • How do you greet people when you see them?
  • How do you treat people when you are under pressure?
  • Do you follow through on your commitments?
  • What do you say about others when they are not around?
  • Are your actions and directions to others ethical?

It means walking around and engaging with others, asking questions and seeking first to understand:

  • Are there specific concerns?  And have they been addressed?
  • Is the direction clear?
  • Are the necessary tools available?
  • Is consistent support provided?

It means having the courage to consistently speak truth instead of giving into fear and politics:

  • What are the specific items that are creating barriers to success or increasing risk?
  • Is there anyone else that needs to be involved?
  • What are you doing to make sure the obstacles are being removed?

And it requires balancing both compassion and accountability for your own actions and when you address the actions of others:

  • What have you learned about root causes for this issue?
    • What have you done or not done to contribute to this issue?
    • How can you take ownership of this issue?
  • Are historical patterns being repeated with the expectation of different results?
    • Are there signs of improvement or are you managing decline?
    • Is it time to change strategies?

“A Level 5 leader is an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will.”

Jim Collins, Author of GOOD TO GREAT



Organizational Wholeness…  Putting The Pieces Together

Together You Stand, Divided You Fall



Compassionate Accountability: Doug & Bev Sprague

Ambassador Analogy: Max Lucado’s Book – It’s Not About Me

Seeking First To Understand: Stephen Covey’s Book – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Ownership Spirit: Dennis Deaton – Quma Learning


What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By chery-gegelman
Chery Gegelman was once a frustrated visionary that learned to lead extensive system-wide changes from the middle. Today she is The Founder of Giana Consulting, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two books. Her passion is bringing help and understanding to people and organizations that are leading through change to growth.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Billy Kirsch  |  15 Jun 2011  |  Reply

Great post Chery. Many leaders do this all naturally, that’s why they evolve as leaders. But some don’t realize that the time then invest to do the things you describe in this post or vital, valuable and well worth it. Great summary of important traits, thanks!

Chery Gegelman  |  15 Jun 2011  |  Reply


Thank you for your comments! I agree. Some people are great leaders naturally, many of us have to work hard to become one. I am so very thankful for great examples!

Baron Hanson recently introduced me to your website. http://kidbillymusic.com/ I love the concept of what you do! Would love to attend a live event sometime.

Dennis Deaton  |  15 Jun 2011  |  Reply


Well done. Succinct and right on target. I too believe that we talk too much about “Corporate Culture” and too little about Corporate Character.

Thanks for being an advocate,


Chery Gegelman  |  15 Jun 2011  |  Reply


You are one of those great leaders I referenced in the comment above. Your message of Ownership Spirit encouraged tremendous growth in my life. Thank You! http://www.ownershipspirit.com/

Jon M  |  15 Jun 2011  |  Reply

Chery, This is an excellent phrase – ” everything you do is observed.” Some times, leaders take some action, and they think it is an un-noticed one. These are usually the actions that bring on challenges and issues. Keeping the idea that everything you do is observed may help leaders avoid trouble and stay on the right track. Thanks for the post! Jon

Chery Gegelman  |  15 Jun 2011  |  Reply


Thank you for your time and your thoughts! That one is a big one for me too.

It’s a tough one to manage because you have to care enough to hold yourself accountable when you blow it, and at the same time, you have to give yourself enough grace to take the lesson but not the shame.

Erin Schreyer  |  15 Jun 2011  |  Reply

GREAT post, Chery!! You’ve done a wonderful job of describing a character-based leader, as well as providing valuable questions to help develop!! Excellent!! BRAVO!! And WOO HOO!

Chery Gegelman  |  15 Jun 2011  |  Reply


Thank you so much for your comment. As you know, I had the same reaction to your video last week, every part of me was cheering, hoping that because it is more visual it would help people understand what is really possible, not a FairyTale, but really possible.

I am attaching the link to your video, believing that they are both pieces of a larger puzzle. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bxf_16pC-Z4

Steve  |  18 Jun 2011  |  Reply

Great reminders on the ‘mentality’ of leadership. Effective leadership requires approaching others with an awareness of things many others don’t think about. You’ve said it in a way that warrants extended reflection. Thanks for the post.

Chery Gegelman  |  19 Jun 2011  |  Reply


Thank you for your feedback. I so glad if any part of it can be useful. Everything I’ve ever learned about leadership is because of others. I would enjoy visiting with you about your reflections.

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