Today I want to address an aspect of The Character of Leadership that may not be fully understood. That is that the model is intended to be open and flexible. For the model to help leaders and organizations, it must be relevant. To gain this relevancy, the behaviors included under the seven elements must be able to change based on context. When I wrote the book and published the model, it contained 36 behaviors associated with the seven elements. Those behaviors help bring the model to life and move the seven elements from philosophically interesting to practical and useful.
Please click here to evaluate yourself on the 36 behaviors in our online assessment.
As I mention in the book, I view this initial set of behaviors as the bottom line for each of the model’s elements. However, the model was designed to be flexible enough to conform itself to different types of leaders operating in different organizations and industries across the globe. For instance, the behaviors for The Character of Leadership in India may look different than those for The Character of Leadership in Kenya. The behaviors for The Character of Leadership in Health Care would be unique to that industry, as would the behaviors for The Character of Leadership in Banking. Hopefully, you see my point.
The initial 36 behaviors are just the beginning of what I hope will someday be The Character of Leadership in (insert your own context). I invite you to join with me in making The Character of Leadership widely known, powerfully used and contextually relevant.
- Communicate through words a clear set of positive core beliefs.
- Seize opportunities to do what is right, even if not personally rewarding.
- Listen attentively to others without reacting with emotional outbursts.
- Establish simple and clear guidelines for people to follow.
- Demonstrate positive core beliefs in action.
- Provide clear meaning to the work of others.
- Assure that team members can make just judgments for themselves within guidelines.
- Accept accountability for own efforts and for the actions of others.
- Demonstrate openness to new ideas that may initially appear to contradict existing beliefs.
- Hold others accountable for their actions ensure that people receive fair treatment and equal opportunity.
- Lead with a sense of purpose that transcends the immediate.
- Understand own strengths and exploits them for the good of the organization.
- Invest time and energy in self-development and growth.
- Ask questions that challenge current thinking; explore and question accepted practices, patterns and assumptions; and stimulate creativity.
- Invite contact by being open and approachable.
- Remain calm and deal fairly with all people in high-pressure situations.
- Assure that the organization has a clear and compelling vision of the future.
- Communicate the vision in a way that promotes wide ownership.
- Remain focused on results without seeking personal credit for success and make sure that success is shared with the team.
- Ensure that everyone’s actions are consistent with the vision and support its achievement.
- Give full attention and show genuine interest.
- Accept questions and input from team members.
- Offer genuine apologies when saying or do something inappropriate.
- Expand knowledge to explore information and experiences in other, often unrelated, fields.
- Seek information from others.
- Demonstrate a genuine concern for the lives of the people they lead.
- Discuss and then openly negotiate with others their expectations of own performance.
- Ensure that action plans are prepared and used.
- Make specific commitments based on negotiated terms.
- Tackle conflict by making it clear to both parties why it’s necessary to resolve it.
- Make sure the most important and difficult issues are put on the table to be resolved.
- Encourage people to speak up and communicate directly when conflicts arise.
- Seize opportunities to avert risk or achieve success.
- Approach obstacles and challenges with determination to succeed.
- Find a clear and direct path in ambiguous situations.
- Perform commitments in a timely manner.
The great recession has brought many things into a sharper focus. The value of good stable employment, the importance of saving, the vagaries of too much debt are few that have been sharpened at the individual level. Organizationally there is a sharper view now on the role of organizations in community by asking hard questions about sustainability of business practice, whether stockholder value is the only measure of success and, what type of leaders we really want in charge of organizations. Read More…
Yesterday I watched Meet the Press. This is a program that I have watched intermittently for a number of years. Sitting in my office, working in the quiet of Sunday morning I listened casually as David Gregory introduced the program’s content. The program yesterday consisted of a debate between the two candidates, Mr. Kirk and Mr. Giannoulias for U.S. Senate in Illinois. I did not give the debate my full attention until Gregory turned the questions to matters of character. Mr. Kirk has been accused exaggerating his military record and Mr. Giannoulias accused of making loans through his family owned community bank to known mobsters. Read More…
As the disaster in the Gulf continues to play out from an engineering, environmental, regulatory and financial perspective it is time to start talking about the character of the organization and leaders that led to this situation.
Over the past three years we have witnessed the melt down of the financial service sector and the now the fouling of our environment. As those in charge sort out the root causes of these disasters from a technical perspective let’s not forget to look at the character of the leaders that allowed these situations to occur.
Character is formed around core beliefs. British Petroleum’s values are: Progressive, Responsible, Innovative and Performance Driven. These seem like a suitable (if not inspirational) set of values but clearly something has gone wrong in the display of these values with regard to the Deepwater Horizon.
Our response to this disaster and others that befall us cannot be limited to assigning legal and financial responsibility. Our response must include analysis and understanding of the real root cause of man-made disasters; character and leadership.
I love a good movie and Avatar is going to be one of my favorites. The characters are enchanting and engaging and the visual effects are stunning to say the least. The best part of the story however is that there is nothing new in the story.
Throughout human history this story has been lived and told by countless people who possessed something that another group of people wanted. Whether it is the European invasion of North and South America, or the colonization of Asia the struggle between those that have and those that want, is a timeless tale.
As I watched and enjoyed the story and the effects I reflected on how well Avatar demonstrates the elements of the Character of Leadership model. The belief systems (Faith) of the invaders and the Na’vi could not have been clearer and more different. The sense of right and wrong (Justice) was clear on both sides and the Wisdom and Courage to defend the respective positions was stunningly clear. Of course the highlight of the movie is when Jakes sense of Justice crystallizes into a mission to save (Hope) the people he was sent to betray.
The Character of Leadership is an ancient model we have adapted to a quantum age just as James Cameron has adapted an ageless tale of conquest into a great science fiction move.
Last week I gave my first keynote address based on the Character of Leadership. During my preparation for that speech to WTS it occured that I needed to begin to talk about the need for character in leadership development by discussing the cost of character.
To make that connection I shared the facts related to a financial system collapse that cost the U.S. taxpayers $150 billion and saw the demise of 557 institutions. At its core, the collapse had the following causes:
- Deteriorating market conditions
- Over investment in single family residential mortgages
- Weak regulatory environment
- Increased lending powers
This collapse took place in 1987 and we are now paying billions more to learn the same lessons again. From my perspective the causes of the previous collapse and the one we now find ourselves in relate more closely with the character of leaders than with economic cycles. What examples do you have, large or small, public or private, that reflect the cost of character?