Virtuous Leadership: Bringing out the Greatness in Others
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o Leadership is about achieving personal and organizational greatness by bringing out the greatness in others.
o Leadership is not reserved for the elite. It is the vocation not of the few but the many.
o Leadership is not about rank or position or being on top of the heap; leadership is character, which can be lived by everyone no matter his or her place in society or in any given organization.
o Temperament is not an obstacle to leadership, whereas lack of character most definitely is.
o Leadership characteristics are not something that we are born with, they are character traits learned through practicing the virtues of magnanimity (great-heartedness) and humility (service to others).
o Magnanimity and humility are virtues specific to leaders; together they constitute the essence of leadership.
The faithful fulfillment of my professional, familial and social responsibilities is an act of justice. Am I aware of this? Do I act accordingly? Do I strive for excellence in my work? Do I conceive of work as service to all?
Am I devoted to family life? Am I aware of the difference between love for work and workaholism? Do I see family life as a source of strength? Do I realize that affection, trust and openness are vital to personal happiness and professional effectiveness?
Am I truthful, or is there a dichotomy between my interior self, and the face I show to the world? Do I strive to put an end to this contradiction? Am I determined to put aside all phoniness?
Do I stand for moral truth, even if this means contradicting political correctness and provoking opposition?
Do I see colleagues and employees as objects to be manipulatedor as persons to be served?
Am I aware that people are persons and not abstract factors of production? Do I realize that it is impossible for me to give them their due, as justice demands, if I do not love them?
Do I cultivate friendshipsor mere relationships? Am I aware that friendship is another name for service?
Courage begins when I allow my conscience to be formed through a sincere and systematic search for truth. Am I aware of this? Is it clear what ideals I stand for? Is my behavior consistent? Do I worry about what others may say or think about me? Do I maintain the integrity of my conscienceeven if I have to pay a price? Do I compromise my principles, justifying it by pointing to the amorality or others? Do I stay the course and maintain my focus? Do I persist despite obstacles? Do I bring my work to a proper conclusion, taking care to get the details right? Am I intelligent and principled in sticking to my viewsor merely stubborn? Do I act boldly? Do I take prudent risks? Do I encourage risk-taking? Do I strive to overcome my fear of confrontation? Do I summon the courage to deal with difficult issues head-on? Do I have frank conversations with colleagues when necessary, or do I shy away from them? Do I defend the reputations of those who are the victims of malicious gossip or unfair criticism?
Am I aware of my dignity as a human being, and of the power of my mind, heart and will? Am I aware of my personal freedom? I have been called to do great things, above all, to develop my personality and that of those around me. Do I know this? Do I seek the company of magnanimous people, who, through their advice and by their example, help me to be magnanimous? Do I set high goals for myself and others? Do I strive, daily, to improve my character and behavior? Do I know what I am good at doing? Have I ever asked my friends to help me discover what I am good at, and to improve? As important as it is to struggle against my defects, I should be more concerned to develop and augment my strengths. Am I? Do I have confidence in myself, and in my talents and abilities? Have I discerned a mission in life? Do I focus on accomplishing my mission, or do I become distracted by peripheral matters? Do I try to inspire a sense of mission in my friends and colleagues? Do I give free rein to my imagination? Do I find ways to nourish it so that it bears more fruit? Am I able to make bold decisions or am I risk-averse? Does my fear of making mistakes cause me to be indecisive? The only thing I have to fear is not the evil that others do, but the good I fail to do. Do I realize this? Do I see obstacles as summits to be conquered, or do I give in to pessimism? Do I seek to address the problems of humanity? Do I see them as opportunities to grow in magnanimity?
Do I respect the dignity of others, especially the ones I lead? Do I lead by example rather than compulsion, do I teach rather than command, inspire rather than browbeat? Leadership is less about displays of power than about the empowerment of others. Am I aware of this and do I act accordingly? Do I solicit the input of others in solving problems? Do I make use of their contributions? Do I refrain from interfering in the work of my subordinates, unless I have good reason? Do I avoid treating treating them like children? Do I avoid the temptation to do subordinates work for them? Do I readily delegate power, i.e. transfer decision-making power to subordinates? Do I foster in my team a culture of freedom and personal responsibility so that everyone truly participates in decision-making and feels accountable? Do I do everything I can to strengthen the commitment of team members to the shared mission? Do I draw out the reticent, encourage the domineering to yield, and help pessimists to see the positive side? Do I urge them to question conventional wisdom? Do I renounce my judgments (unless principles are at stake) when the group decides against my position? If, subsequently, a decision made against my advice proves mistaken, do I avoid saying, I told you so? Do I participate enthusiastically in the implementation of all decisionseven those I initially opposed? Do I promote my organization rather than myself? Do I avoid making myself indispensable? Do I share information? Do I create the conditions whereby others can successfully finish what I started? Do I choose my collaborators well, and pave the way for my succession? Do I find, develop and encourage new leaders? Do I take pleasure in being of service? Do I cultivate altruistic motives? The employee who is motivated by a desire to serve is better suited for a leadership position than one more concerned to seek material rewards, no matter how brilliant his professional background. Am I aware of this? Am I concerned that those who work for and with me are happy? Do I take a proper interest in their professional success and financial security? Am I prepared to do what I can to help them achieve happiness in their personal and spiritual lives? Am I loyal to them? Do I learn from those I lead?
Before making a decision, do I analyze information critically? Do I assess the reliability of sources? Do I distinguish between facts and opinions, truths and half-truths? Instead of making decisions that correspond to the facts, do I bend the facts to serve my own interests? Do I reject truths I find hard to accept? This refusal to confront reality reflects a lack of courage on my part and renders the practice of prudence impossible. Am I aware of this? Am I humble enough to recognize and put aside my prejudices? Am I prone to accept as true whatever flatters my pride, or whatever satisfies my desire for money, fame and pleasure? Virtues enable me to be objective, to perceive the world, human relationships and people as they really are, not as I wish them to be. Am I aware of this and do I seek to cultivate the virtues? Am I humble enough to learn from the experience of others? Am I convinced that managements top priority must be the accomplishment of the organizations mission? Does this mission determine and give meaning to objectives, or the other way around? Do I apply moral principles to achieve just outcomes? Do I realize there are many daunting moral and ethical challenges whose whose solutions are rarely to be found in textbooks? Do I seek advice? Do I choose associates who can challenge me? Do I take personal responsibility for my decisions? If things go wrong, do I refrain from blaming others? Do I fear making mistakes? Do I strive to overcome my fear? Am I aware that there is no such thing as scientific decision-making? The desire for absolute certainty is imprudent because it tends to paralyze ones ability to decide and act. Am I aware of this? Do I direct the carrying out of decisions expeditiously and with authority? Do I follow through on my decisions no matter how hard the going may get?
Self-control creates space in the heart for other people and for the ideal of serving them. Am I aware of this? Do I do what I like to do, or what I should be doing? Do I get caught up in doing what seems urgent, rather than what is truly important? Do I devote sufficient time to what matters mostmy personal development, the development of others, the professional and moral education of staff, long-term planning? Do I remain at peace even in trying circumstances? Do I respond calmly and courteously to criticism and opposition, never raising my voice or using vulgar language? Have I become a slave to money, power, fame and/or pleasure? Detachment from earthly things and purity of heart, mind and body are the wings that cause us to soar to the heights. Am I aware of this? Do I cultivate detachment?