10 Virtues of Outstanding Leaders: Leadership and Character
April 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
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Ten Virtues of Outstanding Leaders: Leadership and Character
"We need heroes (leaders), people who can inspire us, help shape us morally, spur us on to purposeful action." --Robert Coles
What makes a great leader? While most of us may find it easy to recognize good leadership qualities - honesty, diligence, fairness to name just a few - finding the words to define exactly what inspires people to follow a single individual is not always so straightforward. That's because, claim Al Gini and Ronald M. Green (business ethicists and authors of a thought-provoking and fascinating new book) the ability to lead is based first and foremost on an individual's character, their ethical principles, and their desire to be of service to others - it is a lived process affected by time, place, issues, problems, circumstances, and an individual's personal ability to manage success and failure. Despite what other books may tell us, great leadership does not follow a set of rules or theories. So, with this in mind, is it possible to learn how to become a great leader? And who should we look to for inspiration?
"Leadership is a power-laden, value-based and ethically driven relationship between leaders and followers who share a common vision and accomplish real changes that reflect their mutual purpose and goals."
The last twenty years has seen an emergence of new, empirically-based studies of leadership that makes a powerful contribution to our understanding of the role ethics plays in organizations and organizational life. In Ten Virtues of Outstanding Leaders, Gini and Green draw on philosophical thinking and scholarship from across the social sciences to guide the reader clearly and comprehensively through the key theoretical as well as practical aspects of ethical leadership, arguing that in order to be an inspirational and influential leader, one must exhibit certain characteristics or virtues - deep honesty; moral courage; moral vision; compassion and care; fairness; intellectual excellence; creative thinking; aesthetic sensitivity; good timing; deep selflessness. With these in mind, they then go on to examine in detail the leadership qualities of some of our more successful leaders, from Charles de Gaulle to Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King to Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln to Oprah Winfrey, revealing for each the virtues they possesses, their ability to learn and adapt (for, importantly, no leader is perfect and most have encountered, and overcome, their own moral and personal failures, referred to in the book as 'misleadership'), and their outstanding conduct for the common good in times of adversity.
Providing a stimulating and fresh perspective on leadership ability, Ten Virtues of Outstanding Leaders demonstrates how, given the right set of circumstances and personal strength of character, the opportunity to become a leader potentially stands before any one of us. We must simply develop good habits through practice and this illuminating and informative book, by both theory and example, helps show us how.