Wed, May 11, 2011 at 4:12 PM
Leadership is Character
Leadership is about character.
No, leadership is character
There are those who think one must be born to lead—that some have a knack for it and some do not, that leadership is largely a matter of temperament combined with experience.
What is the “content of character?” It is virtue, or, more precisely, the set of
classical human virtues—above all, magnanimity, humility, prudence, courage, self-control, and justice—that are the subject of this book. It is my contention that leaders either strive to grow in virtue as surely as they breathe or they are not leaders. Life for them is a quest for personal excellence.
[Virtuous Leadership] is for people who desire to have a grand purpose in their life. What purpose is grander than the quest for personal excellence?
Leaders are defined by their magnanimity and humility. They always have a dream, which they invariably transform into a vision and a mission. It is magnanimity—the striving of the spirit towards great ends—that confers this lofty state of mind.
But leadership consists of more than just “thinking big.” A leader is always a servant—of those in his professional, familial, and social circle, his countrymen, and indeed the whole of humanity. And the essence of service is humility. Leaders who practice humility respect the innate dignity of other people, and especially of fellow participants in a joint mission.
Magnanimity and humility go hand in hand in leadership. Magnanimity generates noble ambitions; humility channels these ambitions into serving others.
Charisma in leadership stems from visionary greatness (magnanimity) and
devotion to service (humility). Magnanimity and humility are virtues of the heart par excellence, giving leaders who possess them a charismatic touch. We must not confuse charisma with a gift for galvanizing the mob. “Leaders” who possess this dubious talent may generate short-term enthusiasm, but rarely confidence, and ultimately only derision and contempt.