A leader’s goal is to make decisions that utilize relevant information that progresses an organization under his or her control as far as possible.
The problem is that personal characteristics always shape the way that you filter information as well as the strategic decisions that you make, adding a bias into the mix.
As an executive, your “orientation” can be shaped by many things (really everything that you experience), such as your present situation within a company, your prior functional experience, by your formal education, and by things like international experience.
It’s impossible to remove these influences altogether, but it is possible to learn to use them effectively or to take counter measures that minimize your bias and self-interest when you are working on behalf of other people or an organization.
In order to do so, it is necessary to learn to be able to detect when and how these characteristics and subsequent biases will be predicative of your organization’s outcome. This harks back to the principles of self-awareness outlined in this article.
Education’s purpose is to teach the application of various specialties to the general realities of life. This education then serves as a tool to apply all the fundamentals of knowledge toward the shaping of a person’s character.
The process of shaping character, or the “Road to Character” as David Brooks, best-selling author and New York Times Columnist, calls it, is an ongoing process that requires two types of “virtues”, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues.
The résumé virtues, Brooks writes, are the types of things valued in the contemporary workplace. They are the things that give you a leg up in the job market.
As a child or young adult, they are the things that everyone tells you are the key to “success”: the good transcript, awards and honors, things that set you apart from others on paper.
The more important of the two really are what he refers to as the eulogy virtues. These are the things that people will remember you for after you are gone, and say about you when aren’t around.
These virtues include humility, kindness, and bravery.
The fabric of a company depends on the bonds between leaders and those under their care. Society tells us what is valuable, but we already know what matters.
Of course, the two virtues are not mutually exclusive by any means, but it is easy to compromise one set of values when too focused on the other.
When trying to get ahead in the workplace, for example, little else matters as much as beating the competition.
Likewise, when trying to remain faithful to inner values, it is sometimes difficult to be seen as truly dedicated to your profession.
When it comes down to it, we have to think about what it means to be successful.
As a leader, you have the responsibility to maximize the abilities and talents of those under your care. In doing so, you maximize the potential of the company, and are likely a successful leader
How do you do so in a sustainable and meaningful way?
Trust. Trust is the mark of an honest and principled person. If you are able to trust someone, they have an attractive character and the self-control to function in a predictable and honest way.
In order to build relationships within a company, a leader needs to be trustworthy.
The fabric of an organization depends on the individual bonds between leaders and employees as well as the collective environment and spirit of a place.
A character full of the “eulogy virtues”, returning to Brooks, will yield such an environment. Where strong and real bonds are formed between driven and talented people, productivity and discipline will follow.
In this regard, the résumé virtues will naturally follow suit.
So the next question is: What do I do to cultivate these virtues, and if I feel like I don’t have them, will I ever be able to get them?
What you’re basically asking is: Are leaders born as such or are they forged from a long and difficult process?
The answer is the latter.
If you are even having these questions, you have made the first step.
The process is different for everyone, and there is no definitive formula for a good leader. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes.
A good place to start is to understand the components of emotional intelligence and how self-awareness is the most important thing to master.
GOOD NEWS. Anyone with a determined spirit can become a great leader with the right guidance. Stay tuned…