Message to Som Gollakota

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Woodinville, WA
Leadership - Character
June 10, 2009
"In the last couple of months, Senator Rumson has suggested that being President of this country was to certain extent about character.
...I have been here 3 years and 3 days and I can tell you without hesitation, being President of this country is entirely about character."
-Andrew Sheppard, President of the United States
(Played by Michael Douglas in the movie The American President)
eader of the "Free World", or leader of a company, or group, or project - regardless of who you are, Leadership is entirely about character. A leader without character is not a leader at all. Leader is someone who inspires people to want to follow. And no one would follow a characterless person unless they have to. Leadership is not positional, self-appointed, or taken. Not all people in a leadership position are true leaders. Leadership is achieved by (or given to) an individual who has the capacity to rally people to a common purpose and the character that inspires confidence. A true leader is the one who people want to follow because they are charmed by the character of their leader.
So what is the strength of character? Is it moral? Physical? Financial? Emotional? Professional? Ethical? All of the above? None of the none? What is it?
When I see a person with character, I don't see a "flawless diamond". Not someone who has all of the above all-round (although it is excellent and rare to have - not too many saints are out there, are there?). We all have our flaws, including character flaws. However, a leader exhibits the amount of all of these elements required to lead the groups in the chosen field of leadership - one who has flawless character where needed. So, here are a few characteristics of a leader with character.
  1. Doing what you say you will, exactly by when you say you will.
  2. Doing what is right, and not necessarily what is popular.
  3. Staying on the message and being consistently consistent.
  4. Standing by strong convictions and by what you strongly believe in.
  5. Objectively listening to wisdom, respecting experience and correcting course when necessary.
  6. Doing what is right, even if it goes against your own beliefs.
  7. Doing what is for the common gain, even if it is of a personal loss.
A leader may not have all the answers. A leader may not be a saint. A leader may have his or her own flaws. But a leader is someone who has awareness, clear vision about the goal, excited about it, the character that inspires confidence, the ability to fire up the same excitement in others and rally up people who then choose to follow.