Character versus personality

Character versus personality

Character is our heart and soul, personality is merely our voice.

Great managers understand the difference between personality and character. Personality is the outer shell influencing how we are perceived and how we are judged in concrete moments. Character meanwhile is our inner core and determines who we actually are and influences how people define us in more definitive ways, like as friends, partners and leaders. Character is something built up over time and when developed right should rarely change, personality has many faces and is subject to constant development. Understanding the difference between the two is important in leadership. 

Your personality determines how you come across in key moments. For example doing that important presentation where you need the audience to embrace your msg will only happen when you use your personality to get people to feel affinity towards you and hence believe in what you are saying. All great leaders learn to use their personality to help them to achieve things in their work: be it that killer sales pitch, motivating your staff for one final push or connecting with people you just met.  It is for a reason that many great leaders often have an unique personality.

Great leaders learn to use their personality to help them in their work.

Whilst it is undoubtedly important to embrace our personality and use our strong points to help us achieve our goals, it is also important to accept that one’s personality isn’t fixed, people can and do change their personality.  During our lives as we learn and mature, our personalities change. What is important is to control that change, making sure our personalities develop in ways that help us to be better. At work we should strive to hold onto the parts that helps us achieve our goals and change those that don’t. We should also accept that our work personality will often be different to our non work one, although I would argue never should they differ too much.  However we should be careful to avoid changing just to “fit in” but rather only change our personality because it helps us be a better version of ourselves.  The charm and pull of unique personalities should never be underestimated.

People can and do change their personalities. What is important is to control how your work one changes.

Whereas personality is what gets you noticed it is character which is more important to people following you, especially in an environment where people know you personally. Character is our moral code, our values and principles, that define our inner self. Our character guides and influences all our inner thoughts and actions. People can only really trust someone whose – good – character has been proven to them. Your personality may inspire others, but they will only follow you through the tough moments, if they believe in your inner purpose and that comes from the character strength great leaders have. Therefore whereas personality is important for great leaders, their strength of character is even more so as people need to trust in order to follow.

People can only really trust someone when they identify with their good character.

Character in a way is a sum of all the good or bad actions we have done in our life, hence why it is important to aim to do more good than bad things. As a leader one should aim to build and enhance their character and that also of their team but they should also in general see character, when it is a good one, as something to maintain and uphold rather than adapt and change. Normally it is far more important to recruit or promote people based on their character than their personality as the former normally influences longer term more than the latter. Often politicians are selected due to our image of their personalities, i.e. their ability to be noticed and “appear” to offer the best solutions, but the one’s that go down in history as “great” – in good ways –  nearly always do so due to their strength of character, far more than their beloved personality.

Normally it is better to recruit based on character far more than on personality.

So to be the great leader you can be start making the most of your personality and develop and nurture your character. Do the same with those you manage. Expect your team to show correct character constantly but ask them to adapt their personality to the needs of the challenges they face. Use personality to get beyond challenges you face but maintain and uphold a good character so that you have a moral compass to lead your forwards.

Great leaders know how to get the most out of their personality whilst maintaining and upholding the character others want to follow.



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