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Virtuous Leader: Leadership Is Character

  Aug 12, 2011

“The essence of leadership is character and the essence of character is the life long quest for personal excellence.” Alexander Harvard.

There are various dynamics of leadership with exceptional issues singling out a true leader. One of the fundamental concerns that ought to apply to every leader is character. The subject of character brings to focus the question of virtues and self control. In a leadership scenario, value statements, corporate policies and ethical guidelines are decisions that call for virtuous actions. Therefore, before a leader examines values in an organisation set- up, there is need to examine one self in terms of understanding virtues and how applicable they are to leadership.

Leadership is a constantly learning process. In essence virtues can be developed, grown and deepened in anyone. Among the many strategies that organisations embark on, character formation is a strategic imperative – regardless of the environmental conditions.

Develop the Leader in You, a Strathmore Business School program is aimed at enabling leaders achieve personal excellence through a cultivation of leadership competencies. The program was held on 8th and 9th August 2011 with participants drawn from various organisations. The participants were taken through sessions by faculty members comprising of Alexander Harvard the program leader and director of Harvard Virtuous Leadership Institute and author of Virtuous Leadership: An agenda for personal excellence and Mr. Luis Franceschi, a Lawyer, Lecturer and Legal consultant. The session included triggering topics such as: the virtuous leadership system, study of magnanimity, temperament test, effective decision making, study of humility and policy making for virtuous people.

The virtuous leadership system emphasises on virtues that create the space in which leadership occurs by instilling trust. Besides the common virtues of prudence, courage, self control, and justice, Alexander highlighted two other important virtues; magnanimity and humility. Magnanimity and humility apply synonymously in leadership. Magnanimity generates noble ambitions while humility channels these ambitions into serving others. In Alexander’s words, ‘Leaders are magnanimous in their dreams, vision and sense of mission and also in their capacity to challenge themselves and those around them. Humility on the other hand makes us conscious of our action and those around us”. In underlining the core importance of virtuous leadership, the participants were reminded that it only applies to people who desire to have a grand purpose in life by striving for personal excellence. Everybody is capable of being a leader, it all depends on our preparedness to learn and grow in virtue.

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About Develop the Leader in You Program

Develop the Leader in You (DLY) is a Strathmore Business School program aimed at enabling participants achieve personal excellence through the cultivation of leadership competencies. When made habitual, these competencies become virtues that are essential in effective leadership. Adapting leadership concepts derived from the classical European philosophical tradition to modern organisations, Develop the Leader in You, transcends the common perception of leadership. Many regard it as a matter of charisma, personal style and the employment of techniques of persuasion that all too often lapse into manipulation.

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