In Catapult’s soon to be released new 360-degree feedback tool, one of the five components of leadership assessed is character. In our exploration of leadership character we came across the work of David Brooks. In his fascinating book The Road to Character, Brooks assesses the personal qualities of great leaders from history that enabled them to be purpose-driven and maintain their authenticity, even under great pressure.
Brooks asserts there are two contradictory sides of human nature. One side is the external, career-driven, ambitious side, which Brooks calls the “résumé” self. The résumé self helps us achieve status and material success. The subject of his book, though, is the internal, humble and committed side – the “eulogy” self. The eulogy self wants to have a “serene inner character”.
Brooks argues leaders need to be clear about what they stand for both for internal navigation and because people want to know a leader’s true character. If we don’t attend to our “eulogy self”, says Brooks, we diminish our power as leaders.
As a further consideration, teams and organisations can be said to have character if they consistently operate from a desire to do good and be good. Even in a fast moving, competitive environment, there’s no need to sacrifice character in order to get results.
Here’s a link to a podcast interview with David Brooks, which we found highly engaging and thought-provoking:
The Road to Character is available at all the usual outlets and online. It really will make you think.