Identifying 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