What drives your success as a leader? You might think it’s your impressive skills. They are important, but the lack of skills is not what derails many leaders. Skills are too easy to learn.

When leaders fail to thrive, the culprit is often their leadership character, not their lack of skills.

Mark Miller uses the picture of an iceberg to illustrate leadership. 10% of an iceberg is visible above the water and 90% below. Let the part above represent leadership skills, the things leaders do and people see all the time (set the vision, establish goals, plan, resolve conflict). Let the part below, the unseen, represent leadership character, what a leader is on the inside.

90% of a leader’s effectiveness is determined by what’s below the waterline. Leadership character ultimately drives what a leader does and why they do it. It colors everything we do as a leader.

Many leaders spend most of their time and energy developing the 10%. They earn BBA/MBA degrees from prestigious universities, take in leadership seminars, hire professional consultants, whatever it takes to make them successful, good, prosperous in the 10% above the waterline.

Yet, little or no effort is spent developing the 90% of leadership character, who they really are as people. They’re like the man who built a nice house—beautiful, big, comfortable, loaded with luxuries. Foolishly the house was built on beach sand. You’ve heard the story. When the hurricane hit, the house collapsed, the valued client said “no,” the business went bankrupt, key people left the company, a marriage ended, the family fell apart, a life was shattered.

“Character is the ability to meet the demands of reality.” Henry Cloud.

The real stressors of life are not the business issues, but the character issues.

Character always rules