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How an Awareness of Character Can Strengthen Teams

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Good managers know the strengths and development areas of their team members, and these areas are often framed in terms of competencies. In addition to leadership competencies, leader character is an important part of performance that receives comparatively little attention.

What is Leader Character?

Leader character is the combination of traits, values, and virtues that are widely respected and support good decision-making. Leader character is expressed in behavior and is frequently demonstrated in daily habits.

Why is Awareness of Character Important?

Character determines almost every choice an individual makes, from what they pay attention to, to what they value, how they make decisions, and how they interact with the world. Character determines which competencies an individual will develop and subsequently impacts their performance as leaders. As a result, those who aim to enhance the leadership effectiveness of individuals or teams should be keenly interested in character development. For example, someone who values and expresses humility frequently will be better able to work collaboratively with others, learn from feedback, and listen to others than someone who exhibits humility less often.

Impact of Character Strengths on Leader Behaviour

The following table displays the impact of each of the 11 leader character strengths on leader behavior. In the leader character model, all of the dimensions matter, interact with one another, and cumulatively predict personal well-being, excellence, and organizational performance. Judgment is central to the model, and it draws on each of the other 10 dimensions to make consistently effective decisions.  

Table of the impact of character strengths on leader behaviour.

Becoming more acquainted with the leader character model and its dimensions is a great first step toward leveraging leader character at work.

How to Leverage Leader Character at Work

The following activities, tools, and resources can subsequently be used to strengthen teams:

1. Notice and Appreciate Character in Team Members

Character spotting” is an exercise that can help to strengthen awareness of leader character as well as appreciate fellow team members. By using the leader character framework’s 11 dimensions, individuals can reflect on the dimensions they observe in their colleagues. Recognizing the character dimensions that are most prominent in others can improve understanding and appreciation of their colleagues, while also providing opportunities for development. For instance, observing frequent collaboration behaviors in a colleague can indicate a preference for collaboration and a tendency to adopt a consensus-based approach in their work and decision-making style. Opportunities to work collaboratively may lead to greater happiness and engagement at work.1 They may be interested in further developing competencies like negotiation and facilitating teamwork than someone who is lower on the collaboration dimension.

Character spotting can be a rewarding and valuable addition to coaching conversations. Most people are unaware of their character strengths and thus fail to appreciate or leverage them in an intentional way.2 A person high on the temperance dimension may display a reserved demeanor during group discussions and may require encouragement to participate in meetings. Nonetheless, such individuals may benefit from cultivating an enhanced awareness and appreciation of their capacity to remain composed and objective when faced with challenging situations. Someone high on the drive and accountability dimensions may put pressure on themselves to get things done and become frustrated when roadblocks are encountered. They may benefit from being coached on how to channel their energy more productively and cope with setbacks.

Leveraging people’s strengths and providing more opportunities for people to express and develop their strengths can enhance their well-being and engagement at work.3 Discussing character informally and formally can also help to create a “culture of character” where character strengths are discussed, rewarded, appreciated, and developed.

2. Understand Your Team’s Strengths and Group Deficiencies Using the Leadership Character Insight Assessment

The use of a formal leader character assessment such as the Leadership Character Insight Assessment (LCIA) can help to enhance understanding and awareness of leader character as well as pinpoint areas needing development. Used within a team alongside character spotting activities, the LCIA-self or LCIA- 360 can help to develop a shared vocabulary and culture of leader character. Individuals benefit from the information in the LCIA report, including an introduction to the leader character framework, detailed information about each dimension, as well as associated resources within the report that can be used to develop their leader character.

If a team takes either the LCIA-self or LCIA-360 assessments, it’s possible to identify the team’s top character strengths and shared areas needing development, allowing for team-building exercises and initiatives to help strengthen leader character. SIGMA also offers a team analysis of the LCIA-self report that can be used in conjunction with team-building activities.

3. Provide Information and Resources on Leader Character to Team Members

In addition to having individuals or a team take the LCIA, providing information and resources about leader character can be a useful part of any leadership development initiative and can help to strengthen teams. Resources and blog posts about leader character can be found on our website. You can also make a habit of sharing articles on leader character to increase awareness.

Ready to Get Started?

If you would like to speak with an expert to better understand the strengths and development areas of your team members, we encourage you to schedule a coaching session with one of our dedicated character coaches. During these sessions, a SIGMA coach will work with you one-on-one in a confidential environment to help you understand your team’s reports, set attainable character development goals, and measure progress toward achieving those goals. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to chat.

Speak with an Expert

Dr. Ruby Nadler

Dr. Ruby Nadler is an expert in leadership character, mindfulness, and positive psychology. With a passion for fusing scientific research with practical application, she excels in enhancing leadership performance and emotional intelligence through individual coaching and group workshops. Recognized for her expertise, she was the recipient of the Ontario Centers of Excellence TalentEdge Fellowship in 2015. Her groundbreaking research has been featured on platforms including CBC, BBC Radio, Happify, and NPR. Please contact Dr. Nadler for any inquiries related to the LCIA, leadership character, or her coaching services.

1 Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2014). The role of character strengths for task performance, job dedication, interpersonal facilitation, and organizational support. Human Performance, 27(3), 183-205.

2 Steen, T. A., Kachorek, L. V., & Peterson, C. (2003). Character strengths among youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 32, 5-16.

3 Harzer, C., & Ruch, W. (2014). The role of character strengths for task performance, job dedication, interpersonal facilitation, and organizational support. Human Performance, 27(3), 183-205.