Character Attributes for Success (Part 8)

Honest, Respectful, & Authoritative

“Most of us work in organizations, and organizations are obsessed with authority

– Can he do that? – How come he didn’t ask me if he can do that? – Can I do that? – Who has the authority to do this? – Who has the authority to spend for this? – Give me a raise so I can tell other people what to do?

This search for authority informs most of the bureaucracies for our life.   If you only had more authority, (the thinking goes) then you could get on the spot and do this work.  

No one’s giving you more authority anytime soon.  

But there is something else that’s available, and you can take it anytime you want.  That is responsibility.  People who take responsibility get responsibility.  We don’t give it to you; you take it.  And what comes with it is the willingness to give away credit.  If you are giving away credit and taking responsibility for when things go wrong, then there is a long line of people out the door who want to work with you.”

– Seth Godin, INBOUND 2015 Keynote Speech


Seth Godin is my favorite business speaker/author.  

This quote is a snippet from a speech he gave last year at the INBOUND conference.  Above, I’ve linked to a YouTube clip that shows the entire speech.  It is a bit lengthy but packed full of inspiring and useful ideas.  I highly recommend you carve some time out of your busy schedule to watch the whole video.  You’ll be glad you did.        

Seth is special.  He is more than a gifted communicator.  He helps people see the world differently.  

In this speech, he unwraps a flawed idea.  I say “unwraps” because the idea is hidden deep in our human psyche.  We all struggle with it, and yet most of us do not even realize how much it affects our daily work.  It’s the idea that we someone has to pick us – that we have to be chosen.  

We give other people authority over our future.  

As leaders, we must understand the power of our decisions.  We must decide to take action.  When you realize that no one owes you anything, then you stop waiting for permission and start leading.

On that note, let’s look at this week’s 3 attributes for success.


22) Honest – Always tell the truth

Honestly is an expensive gift… don’t expect it from cheap people.

– Unknown


23) Respectful – Treat people like family

Treat employees like they make a difference and they will.

– Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS


24) Authoritative – Clear leadership

Leadership is not a position or title, it is an action and example.

– Corey Booker


 Application Questions  

  • Where in your life are you tempted to bend the truth?  How can you stop pushing the limit?
  • Write down three people you respect.  Then, beside each name write one sentence why.  What did this person do to earn your respect?
  • Think about your job.  When do people misunderstand your directions?  Is there something you can do to improve the clarity of your communication with your team? 

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