The Unquintessential Leadership Trait of Character AssassinationWe humans have a lot of things, good and bad, in common despite all the things that make us different and unique individually from each other. Today we’re going to discuss one of the prevailing bad things we have in common, which is a hallmark trait of unquintessential leadership.

That unquintessential leadership trait is character assassination. But this unquintessential leadership trait is not isolated just to those who routinely assassinate the character of other people. It extends to those people who listen to the character assassination, who believe the character assassination without verification or proof, who perpetuate the character assassination, and who applaud the person who is assassinating another person’s character.

In other words, character assassination can be both active and passive. The active forms are initiating and perpetuating the assassination of someone else’s character. The passive forms are listening to, believing without verifying or proving, and applauding the assassination of someone else’s character.

Although any assassination of another person’s character is unquintessential leadership in action, the most hurtful types of character assassination are those that are perpetrated by, listened to, believed by, perpetuated by, and applauded by people who are supposedly friends of the people whose character is being assassinated.

Character Assassination is an Unquintessential Leadership TraitWith friends like these, who needs enemies?

We humans innately have a tendency to talk too much. In that eagerness to speak, we also tend to talk without thinking and say things in the heat of emotional upheaval. In these cases, we usually don’t mean the things we say and, if we’re quintessential leaders, as soon as we realize we’ve hurt or offended someone, we apologize and make amends.

Character assassination, on the other hand, is a calculated and deliberate campaign of words composed of outright lies, half-truths, manipulation, insinuation, and instigation that has the sole intent of destroying not only the reputation and integrity of another person, but the person themselves. Anyone who participates in this actively or passively is showing themselves to be unquintessential leaders.

With the advent of social media, character assassination has become prolific, public, egregious, and normal.

It’s as though we humans check our brains, turn off all the filters of common decency, forget the Golden Rule entirely, and embrace the darkest parts of our human nature at the door of social media.

Although the methodologies differ – and are sometimes so subtle, they are difficult to recognize  – the intent and the result is the same.

And, more often than not, the people whose character is being assassinated don’t even know that it’s happened or is happening. Others just suddenly disappear out of their lives or consciously avoid them altogether and the people who’ve been the victims of character assassination have no idea why. 

So what does the perpetration of character assassination look like in practice? 

  1. Keeping the wording vague, but malicious, and keeping the victim anonymous, the perpetrator makes sure everybody knows how “awful” the maligned person is with cutting words and harsh condemnations that indicate that the perpetrator can perfectly read thoughts, attitudes, intents, motives, actions, and hearts (if we really believe that we can do this with other people, then we are unquintessential leaders, because we can’t).
  2. Baiting people by providing tantalizing and derogatory information about someone else.
  3. Twisting words to make it look like someone said or intended something they did not.
  4. Taking innocent actions – with no knowledge of what is actually going on – and making them seem sinister, salacious, or wrong.
  5. Gossiping and spreading rumors about someone.
  6. Tearing someone down to others.

The roots of why unquintessential leaders initiate and participate in character assassation are two-fold and speak to the character of the initiators and participators. 

The first root is jealousy. Generally, people who are victims of character assassination are persistent, genuine, proactive and original, and doing everything in their power to make positive movement forward. Usually, they’re doing it steadily and quietly, but the impact is readily apparent. 

Narcissism is a Root of Character AssassinationUnquintessential leaders are generally imitators and copiers. They make a lot of noise and constantly scream “Hey, look at me!” but the noise is unoriginal, often hackneyed, and always copied from someone else. Therefore, they are jealous of people who don’t imitate and don’t copy other people, but actually do the hard work of research, innovation, and original creation.

For unquintessential leaders, the only way to quiet their jealousy and to hope to minimize or eliminate the impact of a person’s honesty, authenticity, originality and forward motion is to assassinate that person’s character.

The second root of character assassination is a darker  aspect of human nature that unquintessential leaders give in to routinely and that is finding a perverse joy and fulfillment in either watching somebody destroyed or destroying that person themselves. 

There seems to be an ugly pride and smugness among unquintessential leaders when they’ve assassinated someone’s character. Ironically, unquintessential leaders use these opportunities to talk about how awesome, how great, and how wonderful they are, sometimes in comparison to the person whose character they have assassinated, but, more often than not, because for unquintessential leaders it’s all about me, they simply sing their own praises and invite everybody else to join in their song.

And now, my friends, it’s that time when we all honestly look into our own mirrors and examine ourselves to see if we have the unquintessential leadership trait of character assassination in our lives.

Do we routinely assassinate the character of other people:

  1. Via social media or other means of communication, by stating or insinuating that those people are deficient and defective in character, attitude, motive, action, mindset, etc.? (It’s important to remember that those people aren’t there to defend themselves – and likely don’t even know what’s being said about them – nor are they able set the record straight so what we’re saying is one-sided and never the whole story.)
  2. By spreading rumors and gossip about them?
  3. By listening to a perpetrator’s character assassination of them?
  4. By believing without verification or proof a perpetrator’s character assassination of them?
  5. By perpetuating a perpetrator’s character assassination of them?
  6. By applauding a perpetrator’s character assassination of them?

I can only answer these questions for myself by honestly looking in the mirror of my own life. You can only answer them for yourself by doing the same.

How are we doing?




  1. […] on to grudges, then being around each other will just feed those ungodly attitudes and mindsets (look at social media on any day of the week and you can watch one person trash another – ironi…) and there will be nothing but […]


  2. […] And we continue down the unquintessential leadership path when our response is to completely disengage from those people and criticize and condemn them to other people. […]


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