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What is Character?
Character is much broader than a list of traits. It is a complex and personal construct that evokes a variety of definitions and emotions. Here are some thoughts, which provide a foundation for our understanding about character. Learn more. 
“Character is an individual’s unique combination of beliefs and character habits that motivate and shape how one relates to others. Our character is defined by our behavior – the way we treat other people is our character in action.”
                                                      — Fred Kiel, Return On Character (2015)
Attributes of Good Character
Good character is reflected when individuals and organizations strive to do and be their best, making decisions that positively affect themselves and others. Although there are many ways good character is expressed, below are a few attributes, using ideas from the Kansas Social, Emotional, and Character Development Model Standards (2012). Individuals with good character:
  • Treat others as they wish to be treated and give their best effort
  • Assume responsibility for thoughts and actions
  • Strive for excellence by committing to hard work, persistence and internal motivation
  • Display creativity and innovation, critical thinking and effective problem solving
  • Exhibit an understanding of other perspectives and cultures
  • Model responsible citizenship and exhibit respect for human dignity
For an inspiring look at how finding your inherent character strengths can lead to living a happier and more fulfilling life, check out this 8-minute video, Science of Character.
What is Ethical Leadership?
Ethical leadership is leading, acting and making decisions ethically, in the ways one treats others in everyday interactions, in ones attitudes and in the ways one encourages and empowers others to do and be their best (Community Tool Box). It begins by knowing your core values and having the courage to live them in all areas of your life in service of the common good (Center for Ethical Leadership). Having a clear ethical framework to draw on is important in making good decisions and taking action. Here are some tools for developing ethical leadership:
Attributes of Ethical Leadership
What does ethical leadership look like in thought and action? Below are some attributes of ethical leadership, shared from the Institute for Ethical Leadership:
  • Being reliable and dependable
  • Being willing to admit mistakes
  • Being true to your word
  • Being worthy of confidence
  •  Keeping promises
  • Keeps promises and commitments and expects others to keep theirs
  • Maintains loyalty to those not present
  • Apologizes sincerely
  • Acts with honesty
  • Takes responsibility and amends mistakes
  • Treats others with dignity and respect
  • Empowers others to improve the world (from Ethical Leaders in Action, 2015)

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