Becoming a leader of character is a process that never ends.  It is a never ending road towards a destination you can never completely reach.  But, leaders must take this road daily in order to grow and lead well.

I had the benefit of my father, General Jim Anderson, and four years of training at West Point to guide me towards being a leader of character.   One of the reasons I began to blog, consult and coach on this subject is I realized how blessed I was compared to most aspiring leaders.  I had guides!

I define character as:  Our habitual way of operating.

But how does one develop character without the benefit of a leader of character for a dad or a 4 year leadership school?  It starts by understanding how our character is formed.

Character Is A Journey


  • Begins with our thoughts.
  • Our thoughts become our words.
  • Our words lead to our actions.
  • Our actions become habits.
  • Our habits determine our character.
  • Our character determines our destiny.

4 Steps To Becoming A Leader Of Character

1.    Character Formation Begins With My Thoughts:  I must spend time filling my mind with positive influences.

Do This:

  • Read:  A leader who doesn’t read has the same opportunity to grow as and illiterate.
  • Mentors/Friends:  I become most like the people I spend the most time with.  Spend time with people who already are where or who I want to be.
  • Turn Off TV:  It amazes me how much more time I have to read when I fast from the television.

Avoid This:

  • Reading Pulp:  Entertainment magazines, only junk novels, rants on the internet that offer nothing but criticism.
  • Negative Friends:  These are people who live life for only themselves.  They have questionable moral standards and rarely offer anything positive to say.
  • Limit Mindless Input:  Do we really need to watch EVERY singing competition on TV, SportsCenter multiple times a day, House Hunters reruns or tasteless YouTube videos?


  • Read these:  the Bible, biographies about role models, leadership books, articles and blogs.

2.    My Thoughts Become My Words:  I must capture my bad thoughts and share my best ones.

Do This:

  • Speak truth- Speak aloud my convictions about right and wrong.
  • Be A Problem Solver- Offer positive solutions.
  • Share- Character building things I learned this week with others.

Avoid This:

  • Gossip- Serves no purpose but to make me feel better about myself.
  • Complaining- Without offering solutions.
  • Silence- When I see a moral wrong/injustice.


  • Join or create a group of like-minded people to discuss important issues and make each other better.

3.    My Speech Leads To My Actions:  “Well done is better than well said.”  -Benjamin Franklin

Do This:

  • Be authentic- If I say I believe in something, then I must ACT like it.
  • Be consistent- Act on my convictions in every circumstance.

Avoid This:

  • Being A Hypocrite:  Everyone knows one and no one respects them.
  • Situational Ethics:  See Hypocrite.


  • Begin today and act like my convictions matter.  Unless I act on them, my convictions are meaningless.  (See Hypocrite)

 4.    My Actions Become My Habits:  Virtuous actions repeated over time become my habits.

Do This:

  • Small things- Follow my convictions in the small things and the big things become easier.
  • All things:  There are no small decisions when it comes to my character.

Avoid This:

  • Procrastination:  If I don’t make the right choice in the small decisions, I will not make them in the big things.


  • Exercise:  Just like I build muscle with low weights first, I must choose the right thing to do in little decisions:  littering, tipping, language, follow-through.  This will begin a new habit and prepare me for larger tests of character.

The Bottom Line:

Our Habits Determine Our Character and Our Character Determines Our Destiny.

I can’t read a book or go to a training seminar or a Sunday sermon and suddenly be transformed into a leader of character.  Becoming a leader of character is a life long pursuit that will determine my destiny.

If I maintain my focus on becoming a leader of character by following the steps above, I will become a person others believe in, want to follow and want to emulate.  That is a road worth travelling and a destination most people aspire to.


What actions do you take to build your character?  How can organizations help there people become leaders of character?