How to Enhance Your Leadership Influence with Strong DAKOTA Virtues

How to Enhance Your Leadership Influence with Strong DAKOTA Virtues

Growing your leadership influence calls for a courageous character core. Your followers and family are watching you during this Era of Exponential Growth. They are keeping a firm eye on the virtues you live everyday.

For many leaders, the word “virtues” is confusing.  Let’s be real – how many times do you use “virtue” in your everyday conversations?!?

What about “prudence” or “temperance”?

If you’re like me, those aren’t sprinkled into my speech. Especially when I’m hanging out with my grandchildren.

Converting Ancient Virtues to Everyday Concepts

I’ve converted these ancient virtues into language that works for me (and I hope you also!). You can find them in Millennials Matter: Proven Strategies for Building Your Next-Gen Leader.

Because of my North Dakota roots, with its abundant resources and crops, I created an acronym using DAKOTA.

Now I can keep a handle on the character traits I associate with solid virtues. Plus, I can better teach them to my grandchildren.

D – Determination fuels a courageous character that weathers uncertainty, challenges, and chaos.

A – Awareness of yourself, those in your community, and God, strengthens character.

K – Knowing what is right and wrong. This “knowing” requires exceptional courage. It values oth­ers to such a degree that you will always do what is right over what is easy.

O – Optimism is an activating force. It invigorates you when you face overwhelming obstacles. It helps you envision a promising future and pursue compelling goals.

T – Trusting others and having others able to trust you, enables you to live with a solid core.

A – Accountability means having the internal backbone to take responsibility for your own actions and choices. You do not shift blame to external factors.

The D.A.K.O.T.A. acronym is based on my appreciation for my North Dakota roots. It’s a useful guide as you working on your personal virtues and leadership performance.

I invite you to take the DAKOTA survey to determine your status on these six character traits: stand on these six critical character traits: Determination; Awareness; Knowing; Optimism; Trustworthiness; and Accountability.

Strengthen your Personal Virtues with The DAKOTA Leadership Character Survey

Note: This survey is not a science-based barometer of your character core. It’s a leadership performance tool to assist in working on issues that might be challenging for you.  There are no “right” or “wrong” answers, just your honest acknowledgment of how you feel.

Instructions for the DAKOTA Leadership Character Survey

Tick all the statements that already align with your personal virtues. Be honest. Record your score for each section. This is for your eyes only. Once done, work through the reflection questions.

Determination fuels a courageous character that weathers uncertainty, challenges, and chaos.

  • I have taken frequent stands in the face of strong opposition.
  • I always finish what I start.
  • I am able to handle stress and manage my emotions, even when facing resistance.
  • I stand up for what I believe, even if there are negative results.
  • I continue to collaborate with others, even when I disagree with them.

Rating: _____

Awareness: Character strengthens as you bolster awareness of yourself, those in your community, and God.

  • I know how to handle myself in different social situations.
  • I am good at sensing what other people are feeling.
  • I feel thankful for what I have received in life.
  • I am in awe of simple things in life that others might take for granted.
  • I always know what to say to make people feel good.

Rating: _____

Knowing: A deep knowing of what right and wrong boosts moral character is. It requires exceptional courage. Plus, it values oth­ers to such a degree that we will always do what is right over what is easy.

    • When I am in a difficult situation, I carefully examine the facts and ask who, what, where, when, why, and how questions. I seek to get a deeper understanding.
    • Before I judge, I try to discover whether I’m facing an ethical dilemma. Or is this a personal preference that is different from my own?
    • If I am asked to do something that asks me to compromise my values, I look for an ethics-based alternative.
    • When I am unsure about a choice I have to make, I first consider the possible consequences.
    • I always listen to my “responsible inner voice” when deciding how to proceed.

Rating: _____

Optimism is an activating force. It invigorates us when we face overwhelming obstacles. It helps us envision a promising future and pursue compelling goals.

    • I always look on the bright side.
    • I am a grateful person and look forward to each day.
    • I try to add some humor to whatever I do.
    • I love what I do.
    • Optimism helps me face the daily challenges I face.

Rating: _____

Trustworthiness: Trusting others and having others able to trust you, enables you to live with a solid core.

    • I always keep my promises.
    • I believe honesty is the basis for trust.
    • Others trust me to keep their secrets.
    • I can be trusted to do the right thing, even when no one is watching.
    • I set the same standards for myself that I expect from others.

Rating: _____

Accountability: Accountability means having the emotional maturity and internal backbone to take responsibility for your own actions and choices. You do not shift blame to external factors.

    • When I fail, I keep working and ask, “What can I do differently next time?”
    • I don’t hide my mistakes, but openly admit my errors and learn from them.
    • Accepting accountability is something I work on every day – when I fall, I get up fast.
    • I follow through on my assessment outcomes and put my training to use.
    • I know that I am accountable for my personal, concrete performance goals and results.

Rating: _____ 

Leadership Influence Reflection Questions

DAKOTA Leadership are powerful steps to take when facing moral dilemmas. Feel free to reflect on these questions, or your own, as your craft a pathway forward.

    1. When you review your survey results, what do you see as your strong character areas?
    2. How might you use your strengths to expand your influence and impact others?
    3. Which of the DAKOTA Character traits would you describe as your “in-need-of-growth” areas?
    4. Which of your growth areas would you like to strengthen?
    5. What might you do to strengthen your growth areas?
    6. How might your leadership influence change if you could work on your growth areas?

Commit to developing virtues that boost moral character. Then practice them. Practice even in the little things that seem to have minimal moral consequences.

I invite you to also read my article series on creating your personal Vision, Values, and Virtues statements, here.

Leadership Influence Lesson: Commit to developing virtues that boost moral character, then practice them.

Leadership Influence Question: What might you do to develop the virtues that boost moral character?

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