Updated: Mar 12, 2022
In my profession we have qualification cards. They have knowledge factors to learn and demonstrate knowledge for, and practical factors for when you perform required evolutions. I remember when I was handed my first qualification standard. My mouth dropped. It seemed impossible to complete the five-inch-thick set of qualification cards handed to me on time. Well little by little I would chip away at it. By the end I would be certified to operate a nuclear reactor, and those qualification cards were part of my license to do so.
I learned through my qualification process that it was possible to get "bad signatures". The signature where others looked at me and said, "You let him sign this?" And "I guess you won't know much about this then." I have seen people go so far as to "scratch" away a person's signature when they saw an unworthy name on the qual card. Conversely some people were notoriously difficult. You would wear those signatures as a badge of pride. Like I overcame adversity, and I did it. I got the check out and lived. The grumpy gruff souls who knew way too much, had high exacting standards, way too little patience, owned those signatures.
When someone sees your signature, what do they say? Is it cheap? Easy to get? Hard and challenging? When you sign administration do you do a cursory look, or do you dive in? Is it earned or is it given away?
The word character comes from the Greek word charassein which means to sharpen, to cut in furrows, or engrave. It was often used on various artisan's wares to mark who did it and help gage value. It was used much like we see brands now. Nike, Apple, and Ford are examples of Brands that we would instantly recognize their symbol. With these symbols there comes beliefs in value and quality. Some love them and say they could do no wrong while others refuse to purchase anything from the brands deemed less superior or unworthy.
Your signature is your "charassein". In other words, when others see it they have a concept of its worth, weight, and validity. Your signature is a reflection of how others perceive your character and value.
This isn't a discussion about what your signature means. It's about what you mean. Maybe you aren't sold on this. Let us look at it from a different angle. Have you met a person where you see them and think "Oh...great...this will be terrible." As your body cringes with "dealing" with them. How about when you think "Hell Yeah!!" and you hope they step into your office area? I have examples of both as well.
How do you want others to respond when they see you? Are you bad news bears each time you see someone? Are you the type that "task bombs" before you greet a person in the morning? Do people get excited to see you?
Don't get me wrong. This isn't about likes or dislikes. This is about quality. Much like the wares that artisans would sell two thousand years ago, we represent character as well.
What does character have to do with the tribe we lead? Everything. You see, a very strange thing happens to the teams, organizations, and microcosms we lead. They become a reflection of our personality. Not a direct representation. A reflection. Let me explain.
Each boss has likes and dislikes. They have temperament. Some scream, some show no emotion. Some trust to much, and some micromanage. For every one of these characteristics, our teams adjust to ease work and to maintain their quality of life. I had a boss who was not a morning person. So we learned how to adjust the drumbeat of our organization to him. We learned to ask things from him when he was in a better mood. We learned exactly what not to bring to him in the beginning of the morning. I also had a boss who was very detail oriented. So I knew when I brought a plan that it was going to have a lot of supporting documentation. Our organizations adapt to the leaders, especially there emotions.
Let us talk standards and quality of work. The leader sets the tone. It is a rare individual who will hold their quality of work to a higher standard than what is accepted by the boss. This also includes ethical work practices. If the organization sets unrealistic sales goals, an unwillingness to hear or budge from it, then unethical work practices will come from it. See the Wells Fargo multi million bank accounts and lines of credit that were fraudulently opened scandal for more details.
So now the question is, what character do I want my tribe to have. Because that answer will be a reflection of how you lead. The leader sets the tone for the organization. Do you want integrity and customer first? You have to be integrity and customer first. Is your team a disaster? UH OH. Self Reflection time. A good indicator of this is what the leader says is the why? Remember when you point a finger out to blame, three fingers from the same hand point back.
The culture and character of the team is the signature of the leader. It's how others get to weigh the worth of your character. Will your team be proud to have your signature? Will they wear that signature like a badge of pride? Will they say, "Hell Yeah!" when you are walking towards them? Or is it more like "Oh shit, hide or look busy". You decide. You create your "charassein".