June 11, 2011

"If you have character, you lead. If you don’t have character, you don’t lead, but rather manipulate."

In a week when we all learned more about Anthony Weiner than we ever wanted to know, I find it an encouraging sign when people have begun talking about the importance of virtue.

David Brooks tells recent college graduates,  It's Not All About You

Today’s grads enter a cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But, of course, as they age, they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center. Fulfillment is a byproduct of how people engage their tasks, and can’t be pursued directly. Most of us are egotistical and most are self-concerned most of the time, but it’s nonetheless true that life comes to a point only in those moments when the self dissolves into some task. The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It’s to lose yourself.

Following up Brooks In the Harvard Business Review, Bill Taylor says We Is Bigger Than Me

I'm with Brooks and his words of warning against the cult of self-fulfillment. The more executives, entrepreneurs, and talented individuals I get to know, the more convinced I become that true happiness, a genuine sense of satisfaction, comes, as Brooks suggests, not from "finding" yourself but from losing" yourself — in a company you believe in, a cause you are prepared to fight for, a commitment to solve a problem that has defied solution.

The most interesting piece was an interview by Zoe Romanowsky with Alexandre Havard who says the key to being an effective leader is virtue because virtue creates trust and enhances the leader's capacity to act.

On Leadership and Virtue

What makes an effective leader? Aristotle, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas said it was virtue. French-born lawyer Alexandre Havard agrees: As founder of the Havard Virtuous Leadership Institute (HVLI), he’s developed a leadership model based on aretology — the philosophy of virtue — that is resonating with top-level leaders in government, the private sector, and the religious arena.
In my research, I quickly came to the conclusion that authentic leadership must be based on an authentic anthropology, one that includes aretology, the science of virtues
. Virtue is a habit of the mind, the will, and the heart, which allows us to achieve personal excellence and effectiveness. Leadership is intrinsically linked to virtue. First, because virtue creates trust — the sine qua non of leadership. Second, because virtue, which comes from the Latin virtus, meaning “strength” or “power,” is a dynamic force that enhances the leader’s capacity to act. Virtue allows the leader to do what people expect of him.

[L}eadership is not about rank or position or being on top of the heap. Leadership is a way of being that can be lived by everyone, no matter his or her place in society or any given organization. The leader does not lead by means of potestas, or the power inherent in his office or functions. He leads by means of auctoritas, which proceeds from character.
If you have character, you lead. If you don’t have character, you don’t lead, but rather manipulate.

Leadership is also not a question of temperament but character. Leaders are trained, not born. Temperament is not an obstacle to leadership, whereas
lack of character — i.e., the moral energy that prevents us from being slaves to biology — most definitely is.

Leadership is about achieving greatness and bringing out greatness in others. All of us are called both to lead and to be led, to serve and to let ourselves be served.
Posted by Jill Fallon at June 11, 2011 9:22 AM | Permalink