Three Minute Leadership: The Character of Leaders

Recently a friend and I were discussing leadership, both professional and personal, and the apparent lack thereof in the current economic environment.  He is a brilliant man, a Ph.D. in Finance and International Business.   As we concluded our conversation, with a wonderfully warm East African smile and laughter in his eyes he said that we could learn much from the great Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu about leadership.  The next day I received the following words in an email from him – a passage, he said, from the Tao Te Ching, a collection of thoughts of Lao Tzu:


A great leader is the one whom people respect and love.
A bad leader is the one whom people fear.
The worst leader is the one whom people despise.
An ideal leader is the one who acts without unnecessary speech, and his people say, “We did it!”


His point in sharing these words is simple and profound.  He argues that great leaders must first learn character building before they learn leadership.  As an educator, he says that “emphasizing the latter before the former is tantamount to putting the cart before the horse.  Education is a process of character building.  Greeks called it paideia, meaning ‘child rearing. ‘ Germans call it bildung, meaning ‘character building.'”  The foundation of the greatness in people is first found in a person’s character. That is well-spring from which leadership, professional and personal, in all its facets flows and is nourished.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, philosopher and poet, wrote:  “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”  The wise know that the character that is within is not given as a natural gift as a talent.  It is something that is worked for – in our thoughts, our decisions, our determination, our suffering and our courage.  May you fill your week with great opportunities that build and shape the richness of ‘what lies within you.’  Remind yourself of the words of John Gardner: “You will find that the world loves talent, but pays off in character.”    Make a million this week!
Have a beautiful day and a fantastic week!!! 

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