Life experiences matter, so does formal education, the deeper your knowledge and understanding the better decisions you can make as a leader. Character depth will matter, because it is part of who you are.
Character may be described as a sum of your values, beliefs, and knowledge. It is also connected to how you apply all of those. It shows itself through your words, behaviors, and responses.
Everyone’s path in life may be different. What people read, espoused values from family and friends, and formal education will have an impact. Today, beyond just reading we have other vast influences, such as video, television, and even virtual realities.
Your life choices and decisions will shape how you navigate the future.
This is why learning is so important.
Are You Learning?
People learn in different ways. Some argue that they don’t need a formal program of study. Perhaps, that is true. Yet, at the same time if their learning is limited to only their immediate surroundings or culture their depth is limited. Their frame may be too narrow.
There are also differences between reading, studying, watching videos, and listening to podcasts, when compared with learning directly from an expert.
In life, people drop out of high school, they drop out of college, or never finish other types of educational programs.
There are unexpected pregnancies, loss of loved ones, or loss of a job.
Many twists, turns, and surprising outcomes.
Does this matter? The easy answer is, yes.
It is not so much about what happened, but more about what you learned.
What you learned from any experience will drive what choices or actions you’ll take next.
Did you learn?
Nearly every day I hear stories about formal leaders making difficult choices.
Some stories are about bad choices and some are about not understanding options. Go a little deeper and it may be that so-called leaders don’t even have the understanding that they should be making a choice. They do nothing.
Doing nothing may be an option, yet if it is not a conscious choice it may be problematic.
Leadership often circles back to expertise. While much of the expertise may be technical in a given field, it also requires great depth in the human side of things.
In the workplace, great leaders understand the technical as well as the psychology of work. They understand people.
Those who lack formal expertise, those who lack education, are limited. When their frame is very narrow, of course, they lack depth.
Depth becomes part of your character and the decisions you’ll make are limited by the information (knowledge/expertise) that is within your reach.
Sometimes there isn’t a video to watch. Sometimes there isn’t a podcast to listen to or a book to read.
The best leaders build their character across time from a wide range of experiences and learning.
How deep are you?
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.