In our society today, we often see examples of people who live by the personality ethic. They are concerned with image, appearance, and how they come across to others. These people usually appear to be someone or something they are not; often living two very different lives. A Public Life where they may say all the right things, and a Private Life where their behavior is more reflective of, “do as I say, not as I do.”
Think of someone you identify as having a strong character ethic. What characteristics does he or she possess? You may have thought of patience, honesty, fairness, and persistence, to name a few. Now – let’s use the image of an iceberg to illustrate the relationship between character and personality. The tip of the iceberg (personality) is what people see first. Although image can influence your outward success, the weight of the real effectiveness lies in good character, which makes up the mass of the iceberg; the part that is really visible. If you don’t have much character, you don’t have much iceberg.
It is my position – to be truly effective in any area, a person must have a balance of High Character and High Competence. As people balance these two elements, they build their personal trustworthiness and their trust with others. Therefore, we can define character by saying that a person with High Character exhibits:
- Belief that knowledge and resources should be shared.
A person with High Competence has:
- And ability in a given area.
For example: When you take your car to an auto repair shop because it’s not running right, you expect it to be checked out by someone who is well trained and proficient in their profession. Ideally, he or she is an expert in their profession, and possesses great skill. In other words, you expect the person checking out your car to be competent. You also want them to be open and honest, and not try to cheat you by doing unnecessary work. Question: Don’t you want someone with High Character and High Competence working on your car? Sure you do. The presence of character and competence fosters trust.
Remember this: With aptitude, competence is just a matter of time, effort, and desire. Character is harder to coach. Character has to come from within. It is based on integrity; which I define as doing the “right” thing at the moment of choice. Character also encompasses maturity, judgment, and a willingness to help others meet their goals.
By building both character and competence we develop trustworthiness. As others learn that we are trustworthy, we gain their trust and develop better relationships. Therefore, by building better relationships, we can truly become more effective.