Character-based Leadership in Real Life

My dad showed me that being a great manager is high calling. More than that, he taught me the importance of being who-you-are and leading from the strength of who-you-are. That's character-based leadership in real life.  His name is Jack Henry, and I posted some more personal thoughts over at

A great manager helps people get more than a paycheck from their job. A great manager helps people build a life. They must not allow the company or the job to take more from employees than it gives them back. However they also counter the tendency to let slacker employees detract from the value and quality of the product created by the team. Great managers manage the balance between profit and employee benefit, sometimes holding the employee responsible and often also finding ways the company can compensate with more than just money.

Jack Henry taught me with his life, that a company must give people life for life. If people spend their life doing their job, they should get life in return. And it's always harder to help your people succeed than it is to merely compensate them.

So today, for a little change of pace brought on by this past Father's Day, I'd like to quote my Dad. I often do a number of quotes on Twitter, but today, I'll quote my Dad so you can have the benefit of some of the wisdom I received over the years.

Talking about an employee one time, "You can't melt a job down and pour it on him and expect any of it to stick."

The story goes on their honeymoon, my mom asked him, "Jack, what kind of eggs would you like for breakfast." After a moment, his one word reply was, "Chicken."

During the telecom boom, I showed Dad around the company where I worked. We were a startup involved in the boom, spending lots of money on the decorations and the urgency of the business. After looking around our new offices he asked, "This is all real nice son, but, how long till you make money again?"

He was "the boss" or "Mr. Henry" all my life, either managing or owning a small business. Often we'd meet people and they'd ask "How many people work for you?" Pausing as if to think seriously about the answer, he'd come back with, "Oh, about half."

As a true character-based leader, there's only one Jack Henry.  He values work. Will you do your share? Will you give more than you take? If so, he's your friend, but if not, he will withhold a bit of trust and never fully depend on you.

His life has taught me to value reliability, responsibility, dependability and persistence. More than that, he taught me to distinguish between someone who acts a particular way and someone who is that way at their core.

Your "who-you-are" is your character. Someone who leads from who they are rather than from power or position is a character-based leader. Are there any gaps between your true character and your perceived character? That gap weakens your leadership influence and your ability to make a difference. Let's all be the best "who-we-are" so there's no need to manage perception or reputation.

Do you have a favorite story about a character-based leader in your life?  Share a bit below, or contact us about writing a post about your favorite character-based leader.  Our world needs great leaders now more than ever.  Would you share a story or two about the great leaders in your past?

Twitter feed is not available at the moment.