Leading With Courage, Character

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To succeed in today’s business world, women must exude character and courage to lead. They must take bold leaps to live their purpose in their career.

At 51, Geraldine Laybourne moved from The Walt Disney Co., citing that Disney was not “entrepreneurial enough,” to launch her own network, Oxygen. And Bridget Baker, currently senior vice president of NBC Cable, came from the world of politics. She left that part of her career for the desire to move to an industry where she could leave her mark.

Character seems to define each of these women and the choices they have made. As a woman in the cable industry, how do you express your character? Are you operating from this place in all instances? What about your integrity? Are you being congruent? As an expert in leadership development, many times I work with my clients to be their own integrity meter, and to continue to evolve their notion of “character.”

Here are some tips:

1. Integrity: “Integrity is the ability to do the right thing, no matter what the doubts or temptations,” states Christopher Hoening, CEO of Exolve. Even Webster’s Dictionary’s synonym for integrity is “incorruptibility.” To establish your own integrity:

a. Evaluate the differences between short- and long-term rewards;

b. Uphold your own principles, articulate them constantly and always take the high road;

c. Be honest with yourself and those around you;

d. Lead with gratitude first;

e. As a cable professional, take responsibility — acknowledging your missteps along the way.

2. Question yourself:

a. If I made this decision, what would my children or best friend say about me?

b. What legacy am I leaving behind?

c. What will be the end results of my actions?

d. If I put aside all the advice I’m being given, what is my “gut” telling me?

3. Keep a business journal:

a. Have a separate book where you record your business actions;

b. Devote 10 to 20 minutes a day to capture your thoughts;

c. Write your successes, challenges and opportunities;

d. Cite deadlines for your actions;

e. Be 100% honest. After all, if you can’t be honest with yourself, who can you be?

4. Develop your personal board of directors:

a. Assemble a group people from different disciplines;

b. Hold meetings regularly (i.e. once a quarter);

c. Ask them to be your sounding board;

d. Have them hold you accountable for your actions and your vision.

When you measure your integrity, ask yourself the tough questions; create a place to record your challenges, opportunities and successes and have a group of people hold you accountable as your sounding board.

After all, at the end of the day, each of us must look at ourselves in the mirror and live with the consequences of our actions. Why make this complicated and why do it all alone? Women are particularly wonderful at providing venues for profound mentorship, nurturing, support and collaboration. Let’s continue helping each other to strengthen our integrity and self-awareness.

And yes, this certainly takes character and true courage.

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