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The Habits of Character and Leadership

The Habits of Character and Leadership

The ultimate aim of human life and activity is development of character, according to Aristotle. The most important goal you could hope to accomplish in the course of your life is to become an excellent person, in every respect. Your purpose should be to develop the kind of personality and character that earns you the respect, esteem, and affection of the important people in your world.

Leadership is one of the most discussed and written about business topics. There are thousands of leadership courses claiming to transform your business, even your life. These often amount to plenty of pontificating, motherhood statements and conflicting advice, somewhat ironic when businesses need practical solutions to deal with today`s economic woes. Below are three key approaches plus I share other ideas based on my success in business. Each of them simple to understand and difficult to pull off. Who then said leadership is easy?

Every business leader wants answers today - right now! The quick fixes must be separated from strategy. Quick fixes are about getting existing assets, people, money, processes to work better, faster and creatively to win sales. Plenty of leadership scope there, with separate fast-track improvements form cutting costs that do not impact on sales. Cost - cutting is not leadership, unless you add a caveat: without damaging the business. Leadership ensures cost-cutting does not become asset-stripping. Which brings us to the longer term.

Assets must be invested in. Any leader who has inherited brilliant people, strong customer relationships or a great brand recognises this. In trying economic circumstances it is difficult to justify the resources needed to create `strategic assets`. It calls for resolve, clear thinking and negotiation with opinion makers to support investment. Without this, initiatives will stall. Part of the leadership task is to address any residual opposition.

Driving both short-term initiatives and long-term investment decisions requires a crucial leadership ingredient: excellent relationships. Getting people energised and confident that they can influence the `bottom-line` is more likely when trust and respect are established. Given how easy it is to ignore the importance of excellent relationships, it is probably the best practical starting point for most of us as leaders. Now let us move on to other important items that impact on your leadership to be successful.

Develop Your Own Character

Aristotle, probably the greatest philosopher and thinker of all time, said a simple method can help, if you wish to learn a virtue later in life. Simply practice the virtue in every situation where that virtue is required. In other words, if you wish to develop the quality of courage, act courageously even when you feel afraid.

Aspire to Leadership
It is not easy to rise to a position of leadership in any organization or in any society. The competition for leadership is fierce. Only the people who are the very best equipped to acquire leadership positions and then to hold on to those positions rise to the top in any area.

Whatever It Takes
In a way, leadership is "situational." What is necessary for success in a leadership position is determined by many factors, including the people to be led; the objectives to be accomplished; the competition for resources; the social, cultural, political, and economic environment; and the situation that the leader finds at the moment. Changing any of these factors will change the qualities of leadership necessary for success.

The True Test of a Leader
Peter Drucker says the only event that is inevitable in the like of the leader is the "unexpected crisis." Only when you encounter a setback, an obstacle, a difficulty, or the inevitable crisis, do you demonstrate the kind of person you really are. It is not what you say, wish, hope, or intend that reveals your character. It is only your actions, especially your actions in the face of adversity and possible setbacks or losses.

You Are Responsible
Once you have developed a clear vision for your ideal future and resolve to develop unshakable courage by doing the things you fear, you must develop the habit of accepting complete responsibility for yourself and for every aspect of your life.

Tell the Truth
Perhaps the most important quality of leadership is the habit of integrity. You develop integrity and become a completely honest person by practicing telling the truth to yourself and others in every situation. Shakespeare wrote, "To thine own self be true," meaning that you are what you believe in. You must continually clarify what you stand for and what you will not stand for. Once you have decided that you are going to build your life around certain values, you refuse to compromise those values for anything.

Action Exercise
Imagine that you could write your own eulogy. How would you like to be remembered and described by others when you are gone?

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More Economics and Business Inspiration:
`Accelerate with Impact` -
by Colin Thompson ISBN: 978-1-84549-289-2

Accreditation: UK Registered Learning Provider:10025755

Note: About the Author Colin Thompson

Colin is a former successful Managing Director of Transactional/Print Manufacturing Plants, Print Management/Workflow Solutions companies and other organisations, former Group Chairman of the Academy for Chief Executives and Non-Executive Director, helping companies raise their `bottom-line` and `increase cash flow`. Plus, helping individuals to be successful in business and life in general. Author of several publications, research reports, guides, business and educational models on CD-ROM's/Software and over 400 articles published on business and educational subjects worldwide. International Speaker and Visiting University Professor.

The Habits of Character and Leadership

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