7 – Leadership and Character

7 – Leadership and Character

Leadership and Character

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” According to the experts we’ll hear from today, character is one of the most important attributes that a leader can have.

Today’s segment, the fourth in a series of podcasts on leadership, focuses the concept that strong leaders have character.

Transcript

Johnson: You want to be able to be infectious in the sense that you can convey your vision and your mission and your goals to other people.

Joslin: They feel like they want to follow instead of they have to follow.

Mace: We would often repeat to our general managers that the values are caught not taught.

Kristen: Welcome to “Sound Advice” – the brief audio download that brings the best of eClips to you. I’m Kirsten Barker.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” According to the experts we’ll hear from today, character is one of the most important attributes that a leader can have.

Today’s segment, the fourth in a series of podcasts on leadership, focuses the concept that strong leaders have character.

We’ll open with a comment from Sheila Johnson. She and her ex-husband co-founded the Black Entertainment Television Network, which they sold to Viacom in 1997. She states that you can’t get your team to believe in you and follow you unless you have strength of character.

Johnson: If you’ve got a real good solid character, cause people, you want people to look up to you. You want to be able to be infectious in the sense that you can convey your vision and your mission and your goals to other people because to be a leader, you have to have people around you that are going to be part of your team and if you can’t convey that, if they have no respect for you and if you can’t convey any of those skills, those character building skills, there’s no point in doing it.

Kristen: But is strong character valued in business leaders? Patricia Warner, founder of consulting company, Global-eze and previously the Director of Sales and Marketing with Corning Incorporated, states that one of the biggest challenges facing business leaders is the “gold standard” of the traditional command and control style of running a company. While it may create great companies, it doesn’t always create good people.

Warner: I think a lot of the big leaders in business that one thinks of…Jack Welsh, Lee Iacocca, there’s a certain suspicion that they may be successful but were they good people? And I think in a lot of ways business gets tainted with that. That this command and control style of running things and my way or the highway, there’s a lot of words that are out there that describe that and I think it does taint the world of business with a less than heartfelt impression. It…there’s a certain human humanity that’s missing with how business…successful businesses appear to need to be run and I think that’s hard for a lot of people to deal with. How do you work in that if you care about people?

Kristen: Dave Pelletier was a Principal at R.E. Pinard & Co., which focused on Management Consulting and sell-side transaction service for small businesses. He subseqently left to become CEO of one of his client companies, Annalee Mobilitee Dolls, Inc. He builds on Pat Warner’s thoughts explaining that in his view, strong leadership comes down to practicing the golden rule.

Pelletier: A lot of people, a lot of businesses, a lot of businesses lately have been in the press and a lot of them have gone, spiraled down because the people at the top did not have the integrity, did not have the character to run an honest business and you lose customers. You know I’d rather say no and lose a customer by telling him the truth than and maintaining a degree of respect than, you know, keeping business by doing something dishonest or illegal or false. You know it may not be illegal but it’s just not the truth. You know I just try to keep the ethics part as simple as possible and it’s, you know, I treat others as I want to be treated myself.

Kristen: Laurie Joslin, president of Unlimited Coaching Solutions, specializes in training and coaching CEOs to enhance their performance in team building, leadership, customer service and sales. According to her philosophy, the only route to becoming a leader is to have people want to follow you – and people will be attracted to those who exhibit respect and integrity.

Joslin: You can have leaders in formal positions that they are really not leaders. People aren’t…people are only doing what they say to do because they are telling them or they are threatening them or something like that. It’s not that those people admire them and trust them and respect them. So some of the qualities of a good leader, I would say would be definitely integrity, trust…do you do what you say you are going to do. Do you follow through on things? Do you have confidence? Do you come across with good intent? Do you really try to help people, especially the people that you work with as opposed to taking all the credit. For example, for something, do you give credit where credit is due? Can you trust other people and are you able to let go enough to delegate, to give something to someone and not worry so much about how they do it but what the outcome is. There is so many traits that I can think of…just to sum it up as a person that someone really wants to follow. They feel like they want to follow instead of they have to follow.

Kristen: Laurie’s views are echoed by the following clip by Ed Mace, who has had a distinguished thirty-five-year career in the hotel business including serving as President of Vail Resorts Lodging and President of Fairmont Hotels before becoming director of the San Francisco-based REIT, BRE Properties in 1998. In his experience, the only way to instill principles in the people in your company is by leading by example. If you are going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk.

Mace: If you stand up and preach in a public forum that this is what your values are and this is what you believe but your audience or your … the people who are working for you don’t see you acting in that manner, it becomes this disjointed communication about what you are trying to communicate. So again we would often repeat to our general managers that the values are caught not taught, and I think that’s an important… a very important leadership value.

Kristen: We’ll close with a comment from Steve Ashley, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Ashley Group, a family of related companies focused on management, brokerage, leasing, financing, and investment in real estate. Steve also serves as the non-executive Chairman of the Board of Fannie Mae. Fannie Mae recently weathered an $11-billion accounting investigation, which ultimately resulted in the one of the largest restatements of earnings in United States corporate history. For Ashley, a leader’s character is of the utmost importance…

Ashley: But folks, I want to tell you, if you look at the companies and the businesses and the politicians that have gotten into problems, it usually comes back to some of that core value where you get off the track on your internal gyroscope, what’s right, what’s wrong and begin to think that you’re the smartest person in the room and you don’t have time to listen to anybody else and so that’s kind of where I am with that and if you don’t remember anything else from my talk today, I ask you to remember that because it does matter, those things do matter.

Kristen: General Norman Schwarzkoph said, “Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy.” – and according to our speakers, that internal gyroscope of character and integrity is the one tool that strong leaders never put down.

Thanks for listening to this segment. If you are interested in hearing more from Sheila Johnson, Patricia Warner, Dave Pelletier, Laurie Joslin, Ed Mace or Stephen Ashley, or if you are interested in hearing more eClips speakers share thoughts on the topic of leadership, please check out our website at eclips.cornell.edu.

That’s E-C-L-I-P-S. cornell.edu.

And remember, if it is a business topic of interest, eClips will bring you “Sound Advice”…


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