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The Top Ten Character Tests Of A Leader

1. The dollar test

What won’t this person do for a dollar?

  • Will this person refuse to lie for a dollar?
  • Will this person refuse to sacrifice his/her family for a dollar?
  • Will this person refuse to hurt other departments for a dollar?
  • Will this person inappropriately refuse to withhold information others need for a dollar?
  • Will this person refuse to mislead for a dollar?
  • Will this person refuse to follow a wrong direction from a superior for a dollar?

What are this person’s dollar boundaries? Has this person even thought about dollar boundaries? Does this person know how to recognize an ethical issue when it comes to dollars?

2. The peer test

What do his/her peers think of this person?

  • Do they respect his/her character?
  • Do they respect his/her work habits?
  • Do they accept his/her word?
  • Do they trust his/her motives?
  • Do they believe in him/her?
  • Do they want to be at the same table with him/her?
  • Do they respect what they know of his/her private life?
  • Do they feel he/she is consistent, that is, a whole and integrated person?
  • Do they trust him/her with their private lives?

What do his/her peers feel about his/her integrity? Are they willing to put their trust in him/her? Do they enjoy his/her success?

3. The words test

What happens when he/she speaks?

  • Do others listen?
  • Are others encouraged?
  • Are others edified and built up?
  • Do others feel a sense of empathy?
  • Do others sense a genuine care from him/her?
  • Is there anger in his/her words?
  • Are his/her words discouraging, complaining?
  • Do his/her words tear down?
  • Are his/her words filled with self-pity?
  • Do his her/her words fill the air with cynicism?
  • Do his/her words heal?
  • Do his/her words communicate wisdom?
  • Are his/her words weights to be borne?
  • Do others feel he/she overuses words—talks too much?

What is the impact of his/her words? Do others wait for him/her to speak? Do others welcome his/her words? Are they glad when he/she speaks?

4. The truth test

Does he/she speak the truth in the appropriate way?

  • Is he/she afraid to speak the truth?
  • Is he/she so afraid to speak the truth that he/she will lie to avoid doing so?
  • Is he/she so afraid to speak the truth that he/she will let a lie stand even when it harms others?
  • Can he/she speak the truth in a way that helps others?
  • Is there bitterness when he/she speaks the truth?
  • Is he/she wise in the times he/she chooses to speak the truth?

Does he/she recognize when he/she is telling a lie? Does he/she live a lie? Is he/she deceived into thinking he/she is truthful and thus deceiving him/herself?

5. The guts test

Does he/she have guts to take on hard tasks?

  • Is he/she willing to pay the price that hard work demands?
  • Can he/she say no, even when it is to the company for a reason he/she feels to be legitimate when superiors disagree?
  • Will he/she take a stand and face the heat?
  • Will he/she risk his/her wellbeing for the sake of those who report to him/her?
  • Will he/she speak up against unfairness?
  • Will he/she go against his/her peers when this is unpopular?
  • Will he/she maintain corporate policy against an attack from a distributor?
  • Will he/she do what’s right in a wise manner no matter what?

How does he/she respond in the face of difficulty or opposition? Does he/she talk a good game or walk the talk? Can he/she influence others to have the same kind of courage?

6. The unfairness test

How does he/she respond in the face of unfairness?

  • Will he/she stand up to unfairness where possible?
  • Does he/she give way to anger and rage when faced with unfairness?
  • Does he/she become bitter in the face of unfairness?
  • Does he/she seek vengeance when unfairness occurs?
  • Can he/she forgive when unfairness occurs?
  • Is he/she a negative or a positive influence in the face of unfairness?
  • Is he/she a complainer in times of unfairness?
  • Is he/she unfair in any way?
  • Does he/she play favorites?
  • Does he/she seek favors that give him/her an unfair advantage over others?
  • Does he/she think that he/she should be favored?

What impact does unfairness have upon him/her? Does it make him/her a stronger person or reveal deep, even fatal, weaknesses? Can he/she suffer in silence after having spoken clearly about the injustice when there is no other choice? Can he/she admit he/she was wrong when the situation turns out not to be unjust?

7. The stress test

What happens when he/she faces unusual stress?

  • What happens in his/her speech? Complaining? Griping? Nagging? Attacking?
  • What happens to his/her work? Slacking? Getting even? Sabotaging?
  • What happens to his/her relationships? Breaks? Distance? Anger? Deeper connection?
  • What happens to his/her body? Unusual fatigue?
  • What happens in his/her mind? Confusion? Distraction?
  • Is stress a challenge that brings out his/her best?
  • Does stress increase fear?
  • Is stress self-imposed?
  • Does stress result from a lack of discipline?
  • Does he/she know how to use stress as a source of energy and creativity?
  • Does he/she need stress to be creative? Is stress really a legitimate source of creativity?

What does stress do in his/her life? Bring out the best? Lead to the worst? Reveal key discipline flaws?

8. The accountability test

How does he/she respond to accountability?

  • Is he/she teachable?
  • Is he/she flexible and adaptable?
  • Can he/she learn new ways?
  • Is he/she defensive?
  • Does he/she seek accountability or avoid evaluation?
  • Can he/she hear what is being said?
  • Does he/she live in denial?
  • Is he/she too hard on him/herself?
  • Does he/she follow through and actually change as a result of accountability?
  • Can he/she admit to being wrong?
  • Is he/she too willing to accept responsibility?

Is this person open and vulnerable, willing to face hard things, desirous to grow in new ways? Do others see these traits in this person? Is this person a model to others of how to respond when being corrected and held accountable?

9. The success test

How does he/she respond to success?

  • Does success go to his/her head?
  • Is he/she so success driven that there are no boundaries of any kind––is he/she is willing to pay any price to succeed?
  • Is he/she afraid of success?
  • Does he/she exhibit a superior attitude in moments of success?
  • Is he/she able to accept affirmation in times of success?
  • Is he/she afraid of the success of others?
  • Does he/she hold others back out of fear that someone else may be more successful than him/her?
  • Is he/she afraid to confront others out of the fear of losing success?
  • Is he/she willing to help others success even at the cost of some recognition for him/herself?
  • Can he/she manage the privileges that come with success: more money, time with others who are very successful, greater opportunity?

What impact does success have on him/her? Is it positive or negative? Is he/she ready for even greater success? What would happen to him/her if he/she lost success? Is he/she a growing person or just growing a career?

10. The power test

How does he/she respond when given greater power?

  • Is power critical to his/her identity?
  • Does power corrupt him/her?
  • Does he/she use power to advance him/herself and limit others?
  • Does he/she use power to help others get ahead, that is, to serve others?
  • Does he/she use power to pursue the legitimate interests of the company?
  • Does he/she understand the limits of power?
  • Does he/she use power to release others?
  • Does he/she think power has the purpose of controlling others?
  • Can he/she see the relationship between power and vision and how the two work together?
  • Does he/she have the power not to use power when this is the wisest thing to do?
  • Does he/she change when he/she gets power? For the better or for the worse?

Can he/she use power or does power use him/her? Does power destroy him/her or make him/her? Does he/she understand what it means to have power? How do those under his/her power feel about this? Are people better or worse off for being under his/her power?

Related Topics: Leadership