Posts Tagged ‘Character and personality’

Character and Personality #10: A simple honesty

by Gary Monti on September 7, 2010

The final blog in this series on character and personality deals with the leaders affect, i.e., what others observe with a leader who shows integrity regarding the character and personality traits discussed in previous blogs. Others observe a simple honesty. In this day and age it may seem paradoxical to use the word “simple” considering the ever-increasing complexity of business life. The reality is: the need for this simple honesty increases right along with the complexity. Achieving it is a daily challenge since expediency in a fast-paced environment can push one to go for the short-term gain.

Looking at the lives of leaders such as Gandhi, George Washington, Martin Luther King, Joan of Arc, and Chief Joseph the deliberateness of their behavior in an ever-changing environment provided a much-needed stability for their followers. They were very sophisticated leaders who displayed simple honesty.

Moral- vs Emotional Integrity

Underpinning simple honesty is integrity. Integrity is a word that is bandied about and can become quite slippery. One way to nail down its meaning is to look at two usages: moral and emotional.

Moral integrity reflects one’s ethics in codes of conduct that delineate between good and evil. In politics this surfaces frequently. However, I believe it misses the mark. Why? Moral integrity runs the risk of being associated with “head stuff.” To borrow from previous blogs, it runs the risk of flowing from ego consciousness. The danger is this: codes of conduct can be formed supposedly based on taking the higher ground when actually it has more to do with being attracted to or wanting to avoid people who reflect our shadow self. (For more on this see the blog on Triggers.) So, in the end, moral integrity can reflect deep-seated fears and aggressions. This is reflected in the aphorism, “More people have been killed in the name of God than for any other reason.”

Moral integrity DOES have value and it IS important. However, it comes from being a subset of something greater. That something is emotional integrity. A simple definition of emotion integrity is:

Thoughts, feelings, and actions are mutually reinforcing and integrated.

Achieving this is no small feat! Remember that battle between ego consciousness and shadow self? Emotional integrity deals with it directly. It is reflected in a simple honesty. Deviation from it leads to dishonesty, a form of lying.

Children are very good at picking up on emotional honesty and dishonesty. They can intuitively feel when someone is lying to them by simply seeing the discord between thoughts, feelings, and actions. They may not understand the subject matter but they can see when someone who is speaking from supposed moral integrity displays fear or aggression. They sense the disconnect between thoughts, feelings, and actions. The child can then proceed to shut down or act out since they are in a powerless situation much like some employees.

There’s a phrase in the business world when one refuses to see this disconnect in others and in turn becomes emotionally dishonest. We say, “He drank the Kool-Aid.” This is an extremely good phrase. The etiology is Reverend Jim Jones’s direction to his followers to commit suicide by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid at their colony in Jonestown.

Situational Decision-Making

So how does a simple honesty play out in changing business environments? Answering this question is what burdens leaders. The leader may have to go through great changes herself. Doris Kearns Goodwin does a masterful job of showing Abraham Lincoln’s journey in her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Team of Rivals. This is in stark contrast to Jones’s megalomania.

Trust and trust

I’ve found this reduces to two definitions of trust. The first is with a capital “T”. Here Trust means a willingness to be vulnerable in the other person’s presence, e.g., followers Trusted Lincoln and Jones. The second definition is with a small “t”. Here trust means expectations based on consistency of behavior, e.g., if I walk by someone’s desk and say “Hi!” each morning that person will probably trust I will say “Hi!” tomorrow morning.

Lincoln could be Trusted because his behavior said he could be trusted to do what ever it took to preserve the Union. He showed a simple honesty in a changing situation.

Character and Personality #9: Negotiator

by Gary Monti on August 31, 2010

Of the core competencies, the capstone trait for a leader is the ability to negotiate. Humility, courage, and competency, traits listed in the immediately previous blogs, all come together to support this capstone trait. This is no simple task!

An Emperor’s View

The Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, reigning from 161 – 180 A.D, stated the task well in the opening to Chapter 2 of his Meditations.

Begin the morning by saying to thyself; I shall meet with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial… (For we) participate in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity…(and) we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is (in) acting against one another…(we become) vexed and… turn away.

That’s easy for him to say! He’s never had a room full of people in a meeting looking down as if they are praying when they actually are taking an electronic hit from their Crackberry with the same desperation of an addict with a crystal meth pipe. (Actually, he had his own problems with people being preoccupied while the Empire was starting to crumble. I just needed to vent regarding one of my personal annoyances when working to hold a team together over whom I lack direct authority.)

Aurelius goes on to explain why finding common ground is so important.

Remember how long thou hast been putting off these things, and how often thou hast received an opportunity from the gods, and yet dost not use it. Thou must now at last perceive of what universe thou art a part, and of what administrator of the universe thy existence is an efflux, and that a limit of time is fixed for thee, which if thou dost not use for clearing away the clouds from thy mind, it will go and thou wilt go, and it will never return.

“Think!” is the short version of what Aurelius is saying. “What do you believe? What’s the goal? What principles are at play? What technologies are needed?” is a slightly longer version.


What is needed is the creation of a link between what motivates people and the goals the leader must achieve. Aurelius understood a rallying point was needed; something each stakeholder wants before everything else.  Creating an opportunity for stakeholders to gain what is burning inside them is what leads to proactive behavior. When the flow of all this is right it leads to distributed decision making and powerful group wisdom.

The Challenge

Here’s the trick, or should I say, the challenge. Aurelius knew he had only so many hours in the day. He also knew expecting people to change is a waste of time. The challenge was creating a common bond knowing different people want different things. Some want to work on a bleeding-edge project, others want money, still others want as much personal time as possible, and it goes on and on. Like Aurelius who worked to hold the Empire together, leaders must spend their time getting to know the wants and desires of key stakeholders and creating the aforementioned link. But the leader must be careful. Without a personal anchor, s/he can be pulled in a thousand directions. This is why humility, courage, and competency are “must-haves” for successful negotiations

Character and Personality #8: Competency

by Gary Monti on August 24, 2010

Delivering the goods is the final judgment for leaders. This means in addition to charisma there needs to be character strength and competency. Competency means, “to be fit for (Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology).” This can be challenging because of the number of boundaries present, which can be fluid and not always precise. In general, though, the boundaries can be looked at as those between technology and sophistication.


“Technology” comes from the Greek “techne” and refers to a craft or skill for getting things done such as farming or carpentry. So, technology has to do with the rules for getting things done, for implementing. This is why tools are also called implements. There is no reflection of greater truths. It’s just about what it takes to get something done, e.g., the creation of a circuit board. A competent leader is keenly aware of the need to pay close attention to the technology and its implementation since the devil is in the details. Does the leader need to be technically competent? No. The leader can be surrounded by those possessing technology and a willingness to work together to bring about the product (more on that later). Does this mean that technology is trivial – far from it. The technology can exist outside of the leader.


“Sophistication” comes from the Greek “sophia” and means “wisdom”. A leader needs to be sophisticated which has a great deal of humility associated with it (see blog on humility). In other words, a competent leader is aware of the limits present in a situation, including his or her own.

Wisdom has a depth to it that goes beyond technical competency. A competent leader understands that in a complicated situation there is more than one truth system at play. In fact, there is at least one truth system for every belief system present.

Competent Leadership

A competent leader finds a balance among the technologies and truth systems present. An earlier blog on change management references Henry Kaiser and his ability to lead in bringing Liberty ships to life in World War II. Aristotle referred to this type of person as a good politician, one who finds a way to thread through a situation to reveal a path that, when followed, benefits the common good.

There is a fluidity to a leadership situation. To be competent means to be grounded in the right set of principles with the right priorities and be able to flex with the situation. There are no rules for that. There is no technology.

Maybe you can see why it is so important to be able to answer the question, “Who are you?” discussed in the blog on Panic and Self-Doubt. Unlike technology, sophistication must be within the leader.

The importance of technology then is a reflection of sophistication. A reflection of the balance within and among the leader and stakeholders involved, including the team. Competence pulls all of the above together so that one person can meet another person’s needs, i.e., a connection comprising the humanity of the stakeholders who need and commit to finding a solution that works.

Character and Personality #7: Courage

by Gary Monti on August 17, 2010

Tiger Woods’ difficulties with his swing and Mark Hurd’s (HP’s CEO) inability to fill out expense reports correctly could have a great deal in common – complexes. With Tiger there was admission of adultery repeatedly with different women. Hurd’s situation was different and a lot more bizarre since he settled out of court for sexual harassment in which there was no sex (this was validated by the woman who was the victim and accepted the settlement) and which did not meet HP’s criteria for sexual harassment.

However, he did spent $20,000 on the woman that was mis-reported and could have been a clerical mistake by his assistant since nothing apparently happened. Is that clear to you? If it is, let me know how you figured it out.

In a very public way they both show how trying to succeed simply by ego (the parts of the psyche that have been developed and are the basis of initial career development) has limits and the desire to be complete (integrate the parts of the psyche pushed down to please others) as Self will, when denied, erupt and wreak havoc without any regard to the consequences. In both cases it was sexual indiscretion (or at least in Tiger’s case since Hurd didn’t really do what he settled out of court for and over which he left his job as CEO of one of the world’s top computer firms.)

The bigger issue is the repressed parts of the psyche yelling, “Hey, over here! Ignore me at your own peril!”

Is there anything unique about how they both are behaving? No. As we go through life we all experience the same self-sabotaging behavior in some form (which doesn’t have to be sex) at one time or another. So, empathy is the order of the day for both gentlemen.

A healthy leader embraces his/her complexes and actually works to provoke psychic integration. Most of us, though, step away from doing this proactively due to fear over loss of security, position, control, power, money, or something else to which we are clinging. The belief is it is easier to just keep on doing more of the same hoping that it will work for us as it has in the past. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Refusal to listen to and address those noises coming out of our psychic basement can have disastrous results. For most of us, though, it feels easier to just do something equivalent to turning up the stereo and drowning out the sounds, hoping those things that go bump in the night will just go away. When we do that those entities in the basement just get angrier and stronger. They combine to form what Jung called complexes. Eventually, these complexes break down the cellar door and burst onto the scene. Usually they time it when we have company present; company important to maintaining our hold on what feels important. A real train wreck results.

A term used for these embarrassing situations is “acting out.” A complex sweeps over us and we become a bystander watching the strange behavior play itself out. That is what Woods and Hurd have done – acted out. A common response in trying to repair the situation is to pretend the complex isn’t there and diminish the significance of the problem. The dark cellar is avoided. Ego-based behavior continues until something technical is done to try and stay off-topic, e.g., get a new coach to work on one’s swing. Sounds nice but if the issue is due to a complex, it will just sit there nudging Tiger with every attempt at swinging correctly until the healing occurs.

An Inside Job

A recurring theme throughout these blogs is what occurs in the business world is a reflection of something going on internally. Hurd and Woods exemplify this. In line with this it is sad to see HP’s response to the situation (but that is fodder for a later blog on honesty). So, if the business, career, etc., is to be saved what’s the answer? Save yourself rather than the things you want to cling to. Do it proactively. Do it daily.


When Woods spoke publicly for the first time after the car accident and coming out of rehab he spoke with wisdom and humility. He owned having drifted away from himself and others and believed the solution was returning to his Buddhist roots. He nailed it! Does everyone have to be Buddhist? No. What’s needed is finding a path that leads to opening the cellar door and inviting those scary entities up into the light to integrate into a life in community.  The big surprise at that point is seeing there was nothing to be afraid of and those hidden parts are actually quite powerful and beautiful! In line with this, good book that is a simple read is “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron.

There is one caution, though. You could find out there is a need to do something different, requiring a letting go or transformation of the things being held onto. There’s no way of knowing without taking the journey. The one guarantee is NOT taking the journey will insure the loss of those possessions. This is one reason why I put such a heavy focus on risk management.

Change Management

So what are the implications of all this for business? Here’s the big secret.  The piper has to be paid. There is no easy road. Smart money bets are on the leader that not only opens but takes off the cellar door and works to be complete.

Is this difficult?


Can there be pain associated with it?


Is it rewarding in terms of becoming happy, trustworthy, competent, and capable of being a good team player as well as a leader?


Character and Personality #6: Humility

by Gary Monti on August 10, 2010

When conducting workshops on complex projects a common question is, “What characteristics must a leader have?” The next few blogs we will break away from temperament and cover several of the important character traits. The first is humility.

Conversations around this word can be all over the map. When asked for synonyms responses include “submissive,” “quiet,” and “unassertive,” and “cautious” to name a few. Let’s see if some clarity can be brought to the situation.

“To Serve”

We took a peek at humility in an earlier blog referring to samurai. “Samurai” means “to serve.” Samurai were humble. They knew their limits and worked within them. Getting the picture? If not, maybe it will become clearer by looking at one of my favorite quotes which happens to be anonymous:

“There are two types of people in the world – those who are humble and those who are about to be.”

Humility has less to do with affect (how we look to the outside world, e.g., quiet) and more to do with awareness; specifically awareness of one’s limitations. One reason teams come about is humility. Together we can work beyond our individual limits. Being humble, we can also pay attention to real boundaries and calculate how to push on them.


This all sounds well and good. But isn’t there an element of truth ringing in the words “submissive,” “unassertive,” etc.? No.

The meaning of humility may become clearer when compared to the word it is commonly confused with  – humiliation. There are two parts to the meaning of each word. The first part is the same, “To go to a small place.” It is in the second part where the words differ dramatically. With humility I choose to go to that small place. With humiliation…you probably have guessed it…I am pushed there by someone else!

Nice People Apparently Doing Bad Things

These definitions are morally neutral. Let me explain. You might know of a couple going through the following situation. One member (A) of a couple gets the job offer from heaven! The problem is it requires uprooting and moving to another city. This can humiliate the other partner (B) who might ask, “What about me?” Assuming A is free of any malicious thoughts of manipulating B, B still is saddled with an unfairness that needs to be addressed.  The challenge of interdependence is present. (For more on interdependence, see William Reed’s blog.) B is going to have to take a risk in order to work interdependently with A.

Fast-Paced Organizations

This issue shows up on the job on an almost daily basis. When a company says they are fluid, flexible, and fast-paced and will work to meet or exceed customer needs a set of questions comes to mind including, “Is the leader humble?” and “Does the leader watch for potentially humiliating situations and work with those who get pushed there?”

The principles by which the leader lives come into play. In the blog on navigating through change management the need for the leader to be steadfast, open, and available is discussed, i.e., the leader staying humble and stable – serving as a reference point for those who are feeling a bit humiliated as well as those who are getting to stay on their chosen path. Both groups of people are part of the success.

The Payoff

It is hard to overstate how much humility combined with interdependence contributes to creating a powerful team. Trust is present which fuels a feed-forward instead of a looking-back-and-wondering-what-happened frame of mind. The awareness of limits leads to better decision-making so not only is the team moving faster there is a higher probability of sustaining success. So, the next time humble pie is being served consider asking for a second slice.

Ever been attracted to someone who will save the day? You know, the White Knight that will save the situation? What about the flip side? Someone showing up in your life you absolutely can’t stand? A leader must pay very close attention to feelings that accompany these situations. Are you aware both situations can have a great deal in common? They can have what I call large “blind spots” associated with them, blind spots into which organizations can fall and disappear.

There’s a curious component to these blind spots since they can have as much or more to do with the leader’s character as the exterior reality. The dynamics of these blind spots and how to deal with them fall under the category of projection. So what is projection? How can one deal with it?


Projection is shady. It creates false feelings of well being around potentially disastrous decisions. At the core projection deals with the desire to take a shortcut to avoid going to dark places, especially within.


Previous blogs mention we all have portions of our psyche that are quite strong and other parts that are weak. Over time, we tend to build our lives around the stronger components and gradually develop a fear of those weaker ones. The primary reasons for the fear are imagined and real instabilities from which we believe we may not recover. Simply put, our reputation, business, etc., are at stake. We are staring at uncertainty.

The shortcut attempted is trying to find someone, the Other, who will deal with those dark spaces for us. We become infatuated with the Other. The Other is taken hostage. Conversely, the shortcut with the detested person is to simply get rid of him or her. This way the scary work can, again, be avoided. In both cases the leader stays myopic, loses vision, and is unable to see the consequences of decisions. A boss hiring someone to do the more difficult parts of the boss’s responsibilities (read: dirty work) is a good example of projection. It tears the team apart.

So Which is Which?

How does one know if the desired decision is wise and simple or blind and chaotic? In one word, “Options.” In two words, “Risk management.” In another two words, “Assumption analysis.” Let me explain.

Projection is sly and takes several forms. It is a narcotic that puts discernment to sleep. It is a demolition expert wiring explosives to all that has been built. It puts the trigger in the leader’s hand. It intensifies emotionality making pulling the trigger feel oh so sweet. (“Just fire him! Just hire her! Start without a contract! Requirements gathering will slow us down! Cash flow! Everything will be okay.”) Then it waits for the blind decision that irreversibly pulls the trigger and destroys healthy power, assets, and people.

By asking questions around options, risk management, and assumption analysis the door to healthier decision-making opens. Vision returns. Now, all this means going into those dark spaces. It’s hard work, rewarding work. It’s also the simplest work. (There’s never enough time to do it right the first time but there’s always time to fix it.) Keep in mind that just like Hades in Greek mythology, that’s where the real gold not the fool’s gold is!

When shopping on line when do you decide to purchase? If the features are fairly close to what you want do you go ahead and buy? Or, do you search and search until all the facts have been gathered before making a decision?

What about when you are on the road? At the end of the day would you like to go explore a new restaurant with one of your fellow team members or does going back to the hotel room to just “be” feel best?

In the previous blog gathering and processing information preferences were discussed. Here we will look at the two other major components that go into determining one’s temperament, orientation and energy source. As with the gathering and processing of information what is discussed below is about preference. Each of us practices all the temperament traits but, based on neural wiring, we have preferred ways of orienting and getting energy.


Orientation refers to how we prefer to interface with the outside world. There are two approaches:

Judging, or J, which means there is a desire to come to closure on an issue. The person who buys on-line once fairly close to the desired goal is J, and;

Perceiving, or P, which means there is the desire to get more information. The person who researches on-line (even after making the purchase) is P.

Let’s avoid some common misperceptions regarding these terms. Judging is different than being judgmental. To repeat, judging is the desire for closure and is neutral. Being judgmental is making value statements, e.g., “That person is good (or bad, as the case may be).” Perceiving is the desire to gather information. It is separate from having insight or a crystal ball.


There are two possibilities for gaining energy:

Extraverts, or E’s, gain energy from being around others, socializing, and wanting to deal with exterior things. E’s can tend to make a lot of contacts without going deep, and;

Introverts, or I’s, who prefer going off by themselves to gain energy and turn inward. I’s can tend to have few contacts and go deep into relationships.

E’s are often called “solar panels” because they like excitement and going around soaking up other’s energy. I’s are often called “batteries” since going off and recharging depleted energy stores is a must.

Keep in mind; it’s where one gets energy that determines whether their temperament is E or I. In other words, you can have quiet Extraverts and energetic Introverts. A shy person can be an E and someone who is “out there” can be an I. Culturally, there is a good deal of confusion over this issue which leads to misunderstandings. You can thank Freud for a lot of this because of his big investment in trying to tear down Jung through trash-talking. But that’s fodder for another blog.

Energy, Orientation, and Teams

What value does all this have? The answer is simple. Knowing how a person gets energy and their orientation can both explain and help resolve conflict. For example, an EJ (Extraverted-Judger) may get tired of working on a task, feel he’s done enough, and want to improve his sense of well being by talking with someone and getting their attention. If the person whom they approach is IP (Introverted-Perceiver) then sparks can fly. Why? The IP could get his sense of well-being by being left alone to both stay centered and go deep on a particular task and get more information. You can see where this is going.

When we look at the combinations associated with E vs I and J vs P it becomes increasingly obvious how holding a team together can be a big challenge. But let’s not stop there. Throw in Sensing (S) vs Intuition (N) and Feeling (F) vs Thinking (T) from the previous blog and we are off to the races!

Future blogs will look at issues associated with all the combinations. As Dickens would say, “It can be the best of times and the worst of times.”

Ever sit in a tense meeting where tempers are beginning to flare? Listening to the disagreeing parties does it suddenly hit you they are violently agreeing!? How can that happen? What is going on? The same reality is being addressed so why all the commotion? Everything else being equal it might be a difference in temperament, i.e., the individuals gather and process information differently.

Temperament can also be called “wiring.” Wiring refers to both preferred and challenging, more difficult pathways in the brain. This can be seen in PET scans of the brain. Take two people who have different wiring and ask a simple question like, “How’s the project doing?” The scans will show different areas of the brain being active depending upon one’s wiring.

If a person has yet to mature they will focus on their preferred pathways and be resistant to (afraid of) hearing anything that requires going to those weaker areas of the brain that are more challenging. Confusion between the conclusions and the path taken to get there occurs and, voila, violent agreement appears.

Let’s look at two aspects of neural wiring and information gathering/processing as viewed by Carl Jung . They are the irrational and the rational. Each has four modes of operation giving a grand total of eight modes.

For each of us one mode predominates. We can do the other seven but just prefer the one. Looking at how these modes operate can shed light on why people agree or disagree. Also, it can show how team members may bond or play “odd man out.”

The Irrational

The irrational refers to how we gather information. It’s called irrational because it is instinctual as in non-rational. There is no thinking involved. We just do it. Jung called the two main ways we gather information Intuitive and Sensing. In turn, each has two subdivisions called introverted and extraverted. This gives us:

Introverted Intuition – Ni. The Ni person is the “Aha!” individual seeing patterns and boiling them down to sharp insights. Details are secondary and there is a comfort with unclear situations.

Extraverted Intuition – Ne. The Ne loves to break new ground. Exploring just comes naturally to the extroverted Intuitive. There is a desire to exhaust all the possibilities and challenge the status quo.

Introverted Sensing – Si. The Si brings order and clarity to situations by linking the present with the past and working to develop precise pathways to the future. Detail and clarity are extremely important.

Extraverted Sensing – Se. The Se makes things happen – now! The Se has no room for nonsense. “Action” is the word of the day, every day. “This way has always worked” and “urgency” are two things they stress.

The Rational

Once we have the information we need to process it. This processing is what Jung called the “rational.” There are two main methods of processing information, Feeling and Thinking, with introverted and extraverted subcategories. They break down to:

Introverted Feeling – Fi. The Fi focuses on the importance of ideas especially those about which they feel strongly. The main drive for an Fi is priorities based on convictions.

Extraverted Feeling – Fe. The Fe loves to coach people and looks after their welfare. Building positive relationships is important.

Introverted Thinking – Ti. The Ti focuses on theory and loves to explain the how and why of things.

Extraverted Thinking – Te. The Te brings organization and structure to situations working like a conductor massaging roles and responsibilities until they are well defined and work is flowing.

Team Members and Stakeholders

Has a specific person popped into mind when reading the descriptions? If so – great! It signifies the process of empathizing with others. This is key for establishing leadership and forming teams. This material will take us on an interesting ride into the human psyche and figuring out how to get things done.

A few last points: Remember each of us has all eight functions. There is just a preferred one that dominates based on neural wiring. Avoid labeling people and leave them space. Leaders nurture the process of growing into the remaining seven.

Character and Personality #1: Emotionality

by Gary Monti on July 6, 2010

How does it strike you when there is difficulty and someone says, “Oh, it’s just a communication problem.” Where did that world “just” come from? Is the working assumption communications is effortless, straightforward, and accurate over 90% of the time? My experience says otherwise. I’ve found there is a very common behavior that poisons communications especially in times of change – emotionality. But wait, aren’t emotions healthy? If so, what is the difference between emotionality and honest expression of feelings?

Sorting out the difference and being a leader requires wisdom and a working knowledge of both character and personality along with the interplay between the two. This is the pond in which we will swim in this new blog series.

Can We Talk?

Alfred Korzybski, the founder of general semantics, found that as stress increases; the desire for valid information increases in terms of both amount and frequency. However, unless one has a strong, positive character the desire to actively communicate goes down. People retreat inward. This isn’t to say they shut up. Rather, there is an ever-increasing absorption with the question, “What is going to happen to me!?” Minds start racing and projections of the most horrible kind can take over.

While there might be a great deal of talking there actually can be a dramatic drop in communications. Others become objects seen as helping or hurting us in getting to a stable position.

Understanding what contributes to communications or its breakdown helps a leader decide how to plan and execute the next move. This is where character and personality come into play.

Character vs Personality

Character is the inward set of rules by which one operates. In game theory it refers to one’s rationale for making decisions. This is a bit oversimplified but will work for now. “Character” is a rather neutral term. A hardened criminal has a character just as the judge who sends him to prison. Unless stated otherwise, in these blogs “character” refers to rules grounded in professionalism, empathy, and compassion.

Personality comprises the way we choose to gather information and interact with the environment. To contrast: two people can have similar character traits, e.g., the desire to serve mankind, but have very different personalities for expressing it. One could become a therapist while the other becomes a contractor who builds libraries.

Let’s use this context to examine emotionality.

Emotions vs Emotionality

Emotions are quite valuable. They reflect the variance between our expectations and the current state of affairs. Frequently, these expectations are driven by our personalities. For example, if a municipality with limited funds must choose between a mental health facility and building a library the therapist and contractor could violently disagree as to how best to spend the money. They risk falling into emotionality.

Here is where character comes into play. Leaders look at their feelings and ask, “Are they appropriate for the principles at play?” Essentially, the principles come first regardless of the consequences and emotions are expected to shift accordingly. (Important tip: Reads easy, does hard.)

With emotionality decisions are made based on feelings and seeking to either get relief from or indulge them. Think of a two year old trying to get the upper hand.

Where this leaves us is: an honest expression of emotions with a statement of underlying principles (agenda) supports communication with others while emotionality tears community apart.

If it feels like your project is an adult day-care center and you are wondering what to do just send me an e-mail at or visit