Leadership & Character – Vision & Meaning

Vision concept with hand pressing a button

The ability to make good decisions is an important skill for leaders. In order to be able to make good decisions, leaders must have a clear focus. This focus can come from the vision that the leader is trying to achieve and the underlying purpose or meaning that is served by the vision. So, let’s take a look at the importance of vision and meaning in character-based leadership. Continue reading

Leadership & Character – Compassion

compassion word in wood type

The past three blogs have focused on character in leadership based on an assessment of the presence of four universally-accepted moral principles: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion.  These principles are the foundation of the methodology for assessing character that Fred Kiel introduced in his book entitled “Return on Character”.   This blog will focus on the importance of compassion as it relates to character-based leadership.

In order to understand the role of compassion in a character-based leader, we can turn to Fred Kiel’s book “Return on Character” where he outlines three common behaviors or attributes that constitute compassion in a leader: empathy, attachment and affection.

Let’s start with empathy. Empathy is broadly defined as the ability to understand the feelings of others. It is an important attribute for leaders to have for many reasons. First of all, a person who demonstrates strong empathy skills focuses on the feelings of others and not just their own feelings. Stephen Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” put “Seek first to understand then to be understood” as habit number five.  I think that Covey believed that to honour this habit a person must be able to demonstrate empathy and strong listening skills. Once they establish a deeper understanding of the other person’s point of view, they will be in a much better position to articulate their own thoughts and feelings.  When a person senses that you understand what they are feeling, the relationship strengthens. Continue reading

Leadership & Character – Integrity

integrity word cloud on digital tablet

The past two blogs have focused on the assessment of character using the methodology Fred Kiel introduced in his book entitled “Return on Character”.  In the book, character in leadership is based on an assessment of the presence of four universally-accepted moral principles: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion.  We’ve reviewed the impact of responsibility and forgiveness on character.  In this blog, we will look at the importance of integrity as it relates to character-based leadership. Continue reading

Leadership & Character – Forgiveness

Forgiveness

There are many ways to measure the degree to which a leader demonstrates positive character and my last blog reviewed the methodology Fred Kiel introduced in his book entitled “Return on Character”.  In the book, character in leadership is based on an assessment of the presence of four universally accepted moral principles: integrity, responsibility, forgiveness and compassion.

Last time we explored responsibility.  This time we will gain insight into the importance of forgiveness as it relates to character-based leadership.  Forgiveness is a powerful characteristic to exhibit as a leader because it has the power to add tremendous strength to relationships. An important truth is that a leader’s success is profoundly influenced by the strength of the relationships. Continue reading

Leadership & Character – Responsibility

Businessman pressing an Responsibility concept button.

There are many ways to measure the degree to which a leader demonstrates positive character.  In his book entitled “Return on Character”, Fred Kiel measures the character of leaders based on four universally accepted moral principles:

  1. Integrity
  2. Responsibility
  3. Forgiveness
  4. Compassion

Let’s explore the importance of responsibility to character-based leadership.  In his book, Kiel connects the principle of responsibility to two important behaviours: Continue reading

Leadership & Character – Reacting to Setbacks

leadership and character in business

Many years ago when I was working for Loblaw companies, I remember attending a management conference where a remarkable individual by the name of W. Mitchell did the keynote address. He was a perfect example of an individual with great leadership and character; someone who reacted positively to the setbacks he had encountered in his life. The title of his keynote address was “It’s Not What Happens To You, It’s What You Do About It™ “. Mr. Mitchell had also written a book with the same title. His talk was fairly straightforward and yet incredibly powerful. In a nutshell, he talked about his belief that even in the most difficult circumstances, you have a choice with respect to how you respond to what has happened to you – you can either play the role of a victim and wallow in self-pity, or you can choose to move forward in as positive a manner as possible. What made his message so powerful were his own life circumstances and the degree to which he had followed his own advice. In 1971, at the age of 28, W. Mitchell was involved in a horrific motorcycle accident where he sustained burns to 65% of his body. Four months in hospital gave him the opportunity to think deeply about how to deal with the situation. He embraced a philosophy/theology/ concept called “Morehouse” that advocates taking responsibility for your actions no matter what happens to you. Continue reading

Leadership & Character – Cheating

leadership training expert

On February 1, 2015 the National Football League celebrated its marquee event – the Super Bowl. The latest edition of the Super Bowl has taken on a whole new story-line because one of its most accomplished and famous players – Tom Brady – has been accused of being involved with deflating the footballs used in the game to an air pressure level lower than the standard set by the rules. It is alleged that he gained an advantage by being able to grip the ball more securely on a day when the game was played in wet conditions. This story has come to be known as “deflategate”. Continue reading

Leadership & Character – The Importance of Caring

leadership training expertThe focus of today’s blog is the importance of caring to character-based leadership. There is an old quote by Theodore Roosevelt “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” It is widely accepted that business knowledge is a very important attribute of successful leaders. However, a leader’s business knowledge is only valuable if the leader is able to effectively communicate it so that it will influence the actions of others.

To shine a light on the impact that a caring approach can have on the power of a leader, I’d like to share the story of the leadership and ownership struggles at Market Basket, a grocery retail chain with more than 70 stores located in the eastern United States. As CEO of Market Basket, Arthur T. Demoulas had developed a strong reputation for caring; earned by always making time for employees. Continue reading

Leadership & Character – Trust

character attributes in business - trustI have recently been doing some reading on the process people undergo in making decisions. I am fascinated by the number of factors that influence decisions and the impact of these factors. As one would expect, logic and reasoning (assessing the pros and cons), is an important element in the decision making process. What I found intriguing is that people can make decisions that – when objectively analyzed based on the data – are decisions that are difficult to rationalize. Factors such as emotion, pre-existing perceptions and trust play a large role in the decisions we make. Leaders must be aware of these factors and their impact on decisions. In this blog post, I am going to focus on the role of trust in decision making. Continue reading

Important Business Leadership & Character Trait – Perseverance

persistenceIdentifying the traits, values and virtues that are present is a person of good character is a pursuit that has been going on for centuries. Aristotle identified twelve virtues that are present in someone of good character. As you might expect, the virtues are not mutually exclusive and can provide great insights to how good character impacts business leadership. For example, Aristotle included courage, practical wisdom and right ambition in his list of virtues. Many studies of leadership traits identify perseverance as an important trait that successful leaders possess. At the heart of perseverance is the concept of persistence. This is where character comes into play.

Persistence without good intentions or right ambition is problematic. It can lead to someone pushing hard to achieve outcomes that may serve an individual agenda rather to the detriment of others. Persistence without practical wisdom can lead to bad decision outcomes because it involves someone driving others to follow a path that would – under scrutiny – be seen as a poor choice. I think that perseverance is the persistent pursuit of outcomes that are both wise and good. Furthermore, it takes courage to persevere particularly in the face of failure. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb – a great accomplishment – but it took him over 2000 failed attempts to reach success. He certainly demonstrated courage to keep going. He also demonstrated wisdom and right ambition and so his perseverance is seen is a positive light. Continue reading