6 Steps to Develop Your Leadership Character

Trust, integrity, drugs in sport and the election – it’s a leadership issue.

This article over simplifies the complexity of human behaviour on purpose, to tease out some thought provoking comments and to poke at the fleshy side of our own behaviour.  We hold our leaders to a higher standard then we can live by ourselves.  Therefore the best response is to work on our own level of influence and ruefully smile with understanding and compassion at the humanity of the leaders around us.


Leadership will be a hot point for discussion this year for Australians as it is an election year.  PM Julia Gillard and her cohort will have a difficult time convincing the Australian voters to trust them again. No matter what the policies or performance of the government, at the back of the minds of many Australians are two little words; Kevin and trust. 

For those readers unfamiliar with Australian politics, Kevin Rudd was the elected leader in 2007 and was ousted unceremoniously from power by his own party and replaced with Julia Gillard.  The way her cohort handled Kevin Rudd’s ousting has left a bad taste in the mouths of some people we speak to.  Indeed, I have not heard for a long time such a definite dislike of a government and its leadership as I have with Gillard’s leadership of our nation. Further to this, I read there are more rumblings in the Labor party about leadership. Whatever values this reveals it runs deep in the Labor party and, likely in the Liberals as well.  It will be very difficult for the Labor party to rebuild credibility.  This is not to say they will win or lose. Trust is a flimsy, fragile and precious thing. Without trust, we walk alone as leaders. Trust, is a leader issue.


Currently under public scrutiny debated in the media is the leadership example of our sporting heroes in the football codes of AFL and NRL and the scandal around drug use in sport.  Whether intentional or not, these sporting heroes in the hearts of many young Australians, are leaders.  Sporting heroes as mentors is now a common occurrence.  I wonder who mentored the sports heroes?    I also ponder what the values are that enable a young athlete to think it’s okay to cheat. If they had a compass within, where honesty and integrity was their true north, could they have navigated better the incredible pressure they must be under to perform better, faster, longer, harder?  Those values imbedded deep within only come from someone mentoring them, someone with strong values. Integrity and mentorship.   It’s a leadership issue.  

Fame and natural ability might get us the position but character will keep us there.

Leadership is not about being the most dominant personality, the first to the finish line, the wealthiest, smartest, prettiest…   

Leadership starts with oneself, with the little decisions, with the tough choices. Leadership is evident when we choose to follow the right path rather than the most profitable.  Leadership resides in our values, in our character. Every single individual will have a character challenge to overcome at some stage of our lives. I have seen such challenges with every leader I have worked for and with the leader I see in the mirror.   It takes character to realise what those around us already know about us. It takes character to work on our challenges and lessen the impact of them.  If we do this we have begun the most difficult leadership challenge of all:  leading ourselves.

  1. Identify 3 areas in your character that you want to work on this year.
  2. Pick one and do some reading on how to improve it.
  3. Keep a record daily of how you do.  Note when you fail to achieve your goal and why.
  4. Be deliberate and intentional about your growth so keep it front of mind.
  5. Reward yourself when you reach your goal and remember it takes 3-4 weeks to acquire a new habit and 6 months to make it second nature.  So keep working on it.
  6. Pick the next one and repeat the process.

Highly Recommended Further reading.  New York Times Best Seller, The Flip Side by Flip Flippen.

About Ingrid Aitken Gattari, Achievers Group

Ingrid Aitken Gattari is the wife of Tony Gattari. She is executive director at Achievers Group. Ingrid has a wealth of experience across a number of industries and has worked in the fields of journalism, public relations, counselling and administration. Ingrid is highly qualified and has a degree in communication (journalism), a diploma in public relations and community services. Ingrid specialises as a trainer, facilitator and coach is the areas of team work, personal development and conflict resolution.

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