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Leader of Character


How would you describe a leader of character? While you ponder that question, here are some thoughts...

  • Leader is a position, leadership is our behaviors.
  • Character is how we behave when nobody is looking.

The U.S. Air Force Academy defines character as:

β€œOne’s moral compass; the sum of those qualities of moral excellence which move a person to do the right thing despite pressures to the contrary.”

At their Center for Character and Leadership Development they help prepare cadets to serve our nation. The framework they use is Own, Engage, Practice with the goal of living honorably while lifting others to elevate performance.

You'll notice they have character listed first and then leadership. This is the journey for all of us as well. We must first discover our personal "north star", our core values. These are things we would sacrifice for, they are not negotiable. This is our identity as a leader. Our behaviors project our leadership.

"Who we are is how we lead."
-Brene' Brown

The alignment of our beliefs with our actions helps us step into the person we really want to be. Although it might help, you don't have to attend a military academy or specific leadership development training to go on this journey. You are already on the journey. It's up to you to figure out if the "map" you're currently using is the right one for you.

It's not just people who serve in the armed forces who serve our nation. We're all serving our nation with our unique contributions every day. How is your character reflected in your leadership?

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This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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