Character Leading

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Almost all of us agree that good character is the centerpiece of authentic first-rate leadership. Good character is the key to good leadership because people tend to follow whatever standard the leader sets. Recent studies in moral intelligence show that the level of morality exercised by a company's character consistently affects the bottom line. It takes good character to grapple with reality. It takes good character to treat people right. It takes good character to build unity among networks of people and causes. Thus every situation that a leader might face calls for the same three attributes: humility, courage, and honesty.

Most leaders have the willingness to improve their character, but so often they are not told how to do so. How do leaders learn to lead "above the line," so to speak? How can leaders grow in self-awareness? How can leaders learn to look inwardly? How can they keep themselves from becoming too defensive to accept the kind of feedback that they need?

These questions are important because people are important. Moreover, as research studies show, character deficits lead to financial deficits in the long run. Character deficits are very costly. Qualities such as arrogance and presumptions, cowardice and people pleasing, deception and image management all weigh companies down.

Of course, no leader wants to lead with character deficits. Yet everyone has seen character deficits play out. I have seen them play out in various studies that I conducted while earning my MBA. I have seen them play out in magazine and newspaper articles. I have seen them in my place of employment. Most vividly, I have seen them in myself.

In what ways have you seen the link between character quality and leadership quality?

January09, 2007 at 5:00 PM

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