I am as interested in who people are being as in what they are doing. You should too. The reason is because behind every laudable action is a laudable character trait. When great traits are exercised, great things happen.

The act of helping out a new person on a team may come from character traits of compassion or generosity. The act of saying what everybody else wanted to say in a meeting but didn’t may come from the character trait of boldness. The act of keeping one’s head when others may have lost theirs may be the result of the character trait of composure.

The more leaders can highlight, develop, and exercise character traits in themselves and others, the more positive impact they will generate in their organization. Tasks are temporary and short-lived. Traits are durable and long-lasting. Traits are worth investing in. Try these two actions below.

For yourself: After doing something you were proud of, ask yourself “Who was I being that allowed that to happen?” Were you being positive? Genuine? Thoughtful? Bold? Creative? Acknowledge and remind yourself of the variety of positive character traits you have.

For people on your team: After a member of the team has completed some task, thank them as you normally would but ADD an acknowledgment of the related character trait you saw. For example, “thank you, I admire your tenacity to get things done” or “thank you, that took a lot of authentic curiosity to get to the real issue.” This will acknowledge and remind people of the kind and quality of positive traits they have.

Ken Blanchard, the business book author, suggests leaders be adept at catching people doing the right thing. That’s a great start, but let’s take it a step further and not just catch people doing the right thing, but being the right thing. The impact will be larger and last longer. We all need encouragement to be our best every day. Looking at  who we are being is a great place to focus.