Character is foundation of strong leadership
Opening Case Study :
A Leader with Character–Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi was a very empowering and Visionary leader. He empowered all Indians on a salt march to corrupt the British economic system. Since he was pioneer of Satyagraha, he also inspired all Indians to understand and learn resistance through non-violent civil disobedience. Gandhi was a leader of character. He gave Indians a new spirit, a sense of self-respect and a feeling of pride in their civilization; he is something more than a mere politician. He is a great statesman and a man of vision.
In India, Gandhi established the acknowledgment by leading through example, he established himself as a servant of the people of India, empowering the general public. He made it his policy to practice what he preached, even the small things like spinning yarn to make his clothes. He resorted to simple and poor living, just like millions in the country, hence people looked at Gandhi as one of their own, they could see their own sufferings in him.
Gandhi had already been recognized through his work and movements in South Africa. People already had great honor and hopes from him due to what he had achieved, his non- violent methods were also very well respected within the Indian society. Since he was already visionary, Mahatma Gandhi was a Transformational leader. He always empowered his followers towards success, he gave them hope where there may be none. One of the most outstanding
qualities of Gandhi which makes him a great transfor- mational leader of modern history was his long-term vision, self-conﬁdence which was perhaps perceived as someone who was stubborn and strong principles of righteousness.
Mahatma Gandhi is universally accepted as an exemplary model of ethical and moral life, with a rare blending of personal and public life, the principles and practices, the immediate and the eternal. He considered life to be an integrated whole, growing from ‘truth to truth’ every day in moral and spiritual status.
He believed in a single standard of conduct founded on dharma of truth and nonviolence. He successfully led nonviolent struggles against racial discrimination, colonial rule, economic and social exploitation and moral degradation. So long as these manifestations of violence remain, Gandhi will remain relevant. Gandhi was “a good man in a world where few resists the corroding inﬂuence of power, wealth and vanity”.
Among the vital messages of Gandhi’s leadership are: even one person can make a difference; strength comes not from physical capacity but from an indomitable will; given a just cause, nonviolence and capacity for self-suffering, and fearlessness, victory is certain; leadership by example is the one most effective.
Gandhi’s 7 social sins are a comprehensive list of behaviors that cause serious harm to society. Convinced that morality is a superior force, the spiritual and political leader created a list of factors that degrade it in order to warn against them.
The following are the biggest social sins that Gandhi warned against.
1. Politics without principles
2.Business without morals
3.Well-being without work
4.Education without character
5. Science without humanity
7. Religion without sacriﬁce
The late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged his followers not to judge people by their appearance, but by the content of their character. A person’s character, good or bad, can inspire others to greatness or discourage them from trying. In business, the role of leadership character can’t be understated. Authentic leaders lead from a strong, personal, moral value that can have a profound effect on your organization. You need to understand how character affects your organization and how it can attract top performers.
Scratch the surface of a true leader, or look beneath his or her personality, and you’ll ﬁnd character. The traits and values that make up the character of a good business leader are, for the most part, similar to those that make up the character of an outstanding human being.
Leaders do not command excellence; they build excellence. Excellence is “being all you can be” within the bounds of doing what is right for your organization. To reach excellence you must ﬁrst be a leader of good character. You must do everything you are supposed to do.
A strong person can be good or bad. A gang leader is an example of a strong person with a bad character, while an outstanding community leader is one with both strong and good characteristics. An organization needs leaders with both strong and good characteristics — people who will guide them to the future and show that they can be trusted.
Leaders with character achieve results that transcend everyday organizational imperatives and outcomes. A study of world leaders over the past 150 years asserts that managers who possess strong character will create a better world for everyone, while leadership generally is vital to the social, moral, economic, and political fabrics of society.
Here are Five Reasons Why Character Plays A Major Role in Leadership:
- Matter of Trust
Leadership must be trusted to make the smartest decisions and do the right thing, especially in difﬁcult conditions. Trust is achieved by demonstrating competence and through strong character. Hiring executives must believe they can trust the leader as must employees who follow her. Once a leader’s character is proven untrustworthy, her ability to lead will diminish. Keeping leaders who have poor character and can’t be trusted will diminish morale.
2. Commands Respect
Good character in leadership commands respect. Besides being trusted, these leaders have the respect of their teams and even the competition. A person with good character is courteous, never demeaning. He is accepting of others and appreciates hearing opposing viewpoints. As a result of his willingness to listen and accept, his respect increases. People with poor character aren’t
respected because they have shown that they will not make good choices or make decisions that are in the interest of the team.
3. Brings Excellence
Leadership with good character brings a spirit of excellence to any business. These leaders expect more than the status quo from themselves and the people they lead. This character attribute encourages team members to learn more and do more. With excellence comes responsibility. This leader takes responsibility for their actions, even when it means owning up to mistakes. They have a strong sense of accountability and expect the same from their team members.
4. Genuine Care
People with good character genuinely care about the people they work with. While a respectful distance must be maintained in working relationships, genuine concern for others is important for all business. Teams are often smaller than groups in large companies, commanding a greater need for stronger inner- company ties. This character attribute may manifest as caring concern, helpfulness and compassion.
This is the tendency to take the most hopeful and cheerful view and to expect the best outcome. Optimists see opportunities, possibilities and silver linings in every situation. They often contend that, with hard work, focus, resilience and a bit of luck, a positive outcome is possible. People are naturally drawn to leaders who are positive, upbeat and cheerful – who have a “We can do this!” type of attitude.
Organizations want leaders who were both ethical and who