THE CONTEXT OF ‘CHARACTER V PERSONALITY’
Looking at what the two words actually mean, we start to see a real difference. Where the word character is deep and intrinsic, the word personality is about the superficial- the persona, or an adopted mask.
PERSONALITY TRUMPING CHARACTER CAUSES ISSUES
Our founder spent a lot of his career working with teams, particularly in the coaching space, and observed that, generally, the inflation that comes with big personalities, comes from a lack of self-esteem.
The roadside is littered with the egos that have fallen away. Those have been ‘found out’. We only need to think about big, loud personalities like ‘Fred the Shred’ at RBS, to see that where personality trumps character, problems arise.
PERSONALITIES NEED CHARACTERS TO ACHIEVE, BUT IT’S NOT THE SAME THE OTHER WAY AROUND:
In her book ‘Quiet’, Susan Cain concludes that it’s time to return to the ‘age of character’- a quieter, more introverted and thoughtful age where a person’s character counts more than their personality.
That shift which Cain refers to, is exemplified by President JFK.
His era was the beginning of the age of television, where personality and charisma became more important.
While JFK certainly did have the personality, he also had the character to back it up and deliver though, as we highlighted previously.
In his case, it could be argued that his character trumped his personality (though they may have been evenly matched).
If we now look at the example of Jeff Bezos, in a previous article we described him as ‘The Methodical Man’.
For us, he exemplifies the point about character trumping personality. One of the core reasons for Bezos’ success at Amazon is his focus on delivery, and tracking the metrics.
Looking at the examples of JFK and Jeff Bezos then, we can see that while personalities need the character to achieve success, characters are able to quietly achieve by ‘getting on with the job at hand’.