22. How do organizations develop the personal character required for leadership?
What are the characteristics of personal character that are needed by leaders?
Here's a short list.
Integrity, courage, humility, resilience, commitment, magnanimity, empathy and honesty.
When you think about organizational leadership, what aspects of personal character do you look for?
Here's what I want to know.
"How have you suffered professionally and in relationships? What obstacles, hurdles, crisis or failures have you had? How have you dealt with it? Where are you now?"
The reason I ask this is that suffering either narrows or broadens a person.
If it narrows, they have taken that suffering and turned into bitterness. They see themselves as victims. Sure we can all claim victim status in some way. The way of the victim is not out, but into a world of bitterness and self-deception.
Suffering can broaden a person. We can learned from it, grow from it, and find wisdom and perspective from it. In so doing, we become better equipped to deal with ambiguity in business.
As Nietzsche wrote, "What does not kill me, makes me stronger." This is a mindset that is not easily acquired. It means that we must look into ourselves and see what it is that I can control, deal with it and place the rest at an emotional distance.
How many times in our professional lives have we suffered the loss of an important contract or the betrayal of a colleague? How many times have we suffered from the deceitfulness of others or simply their incompetence?
In other words, what we must understand related to suffering and our personal character is that our lives are indelibly connected to others. We don't live in isolation. We may suffer, be victimized by their actions, but we choose whether to act the victim. The kind of character that triumphs in those situations is the kind that takes each day as a lesson in the school of life, and transforms that lesson into wisdom to be applied the next day.
How can this kind of character be developed in people in the workplace?
It starts at the top. It is learned by example and commitment.