Character and Goals

by  Mike Henry  |  Self Leadership

Do your goals dictate your character or does your character dictate your goals?

Character and Goals | Lead Change GroupIntegrity may just be the point at which your character dictates your behavior.

How many of us will compromise just a bit of our character, our who-we-are, to reach an objective? Contrast Internet marketing and our upcoming US Presidential election. Often I’m invited to market myself or my ideas in ways contrary to my own ideals. Imagine a spammer inviting me via spam to use them to market myself. Since I stand for character-based leadership, that doesn’t seem very consistent. Integrity would have me behave in a manner consistent with what I stand for. So why would I do something other than who-I-am to market who-I-am? Marketers? Thoughts?

And why do people who claim to be visionary leaders insist we should vote for them because “they’re better than the other person”? Where’s the vision? I wrote over on my personal blog about the futility of criticism. Leadership and empty criticism have trouble coexisting.

But rather than point fingers at others, let’s make this a personal exercise.  Where do I compromise?  Where do my goals dictate my behavior?  Do I do something that’s “not me” in order to get you to follow me on Twitter or read this blog?  Do I compromise “me” when selling my services? What about simply trying to impress you or my boss? What ways do I let you understand more than the truth on my resume or on my performance review or in my weekly report?

How do I behave when I’m filling out my taxes, reporting my income or making a donation? How would I behave if I wanted you to vote for me?

“So I turned my self to face me,
But I never caught a glimpse,
Of how the others must see the faker.
I’m much to fast to take that test.”
Changes by David Bowie

My takeaway from the US Presidential election and this exercise will be to question how I behave. I don’t need to apply my standards of behavior to anyone else. I don’t need to convict anyone else of my own questionable motives or treat anyone else as if they’re capable of the behavior I’m capable of or worse. There is no shortage of places where, when I’m all alone and as honest as I can be, I have room to improve. And if you’re honest, so are you.

What questions cause you to pause if you were the person being asked? And how can we use those questions to be better leaders?

© Corgarashu –


About The Author

Articles By mike-henry
Chief Instigator (Founder) of Lead Change Group and VP of IT for a mid sized technology company. Passionate about character-based leadership and making a positive difference.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Deborah Costello  |  05 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Hi Mike,

I have often thought it was the small decisions that really demonstrate a person’s character. When we give in on a small thing today, does it lead to a bigger thing tomorrow? It’s one of the hardest things I try to teach in class. Because people don’t think little things matter. Because everyone does it, or no one will know, or it gets me where I are going.

Yesterday I had a win with a student that tells me everything about him. We were playing a game and he “cheated” to earn an extra point. It was a small thing and I wasn’t 100% sure, but I mentioned that I was doubtful and we moved on. After class he told me the truth and apologized. It was a little thing, silly, and in the greater scope of life, unimportant. But this student has my attention now because he knows the right thing to do. And that is half the battle.

Thanks for reminding us that everything matters, Mike.


Mike Henry  |  05 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Thanks back Deb. This is a great story about how easy it is to rationalize our behavior. I’m glad your student wasn’t “too fast to take that test.”


Cathy  |  28 Sep 2012  |  Reply

I like the question posted by Deborah, When we give in on a small thing today, does it lead to a bigger thing tomorrow? The building of one’s character does not happen overnight. If you cannot be trusted in little amount how can you be trusted with more?

Compromising your standard leads to disappointments. Getting into the habit of compromises will sink you deeper to a sea of irregularities making it hard to lift yourself out of it.

Your article especially your questions, “Do I do something that’s “not me” in order to get you to follow me on Twitter or read this blog? Do I compromise “me” when selling my services? made me introspective. Thanks!

Mike Henry  |  28 Sep 2012  |  Reply


Thanks for the comments and the feedback on the post. I appreciate it. I hope at least I can continue to ask the question.

Thanks again. Mike…

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