A Vote For Virtuous Leadership

The pending election for the leader of the free world has been hotly debated. The results will determine directions for our nation and planet in years to come. But this time around, millions of us are more deeply skeptical of our choices. Perhaps it’s because “virtuous leadership” needs more attention in our public discourse. The term “virtues” does not carry much credibility because it sounds like a throwback to the Victorian era. In generations past, leaders spoke of virtues, those beliefs and practices that provided common rules of engagement both in public and private life. These virtues included honesty, humility, fairness, justice, and individual dignity. Although our leaders did not always live up to these benchmarks, at least we agreed on what they were.

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Spotting Leadership Potential

The real leaders in many organizations are not obvious by their positions. Often they are hidden, but identifying them for development and future leadership is critical to the organization’s success. Based on observation in diverse organizational sectors that span the globe, here are four indicators to spot leadership potential. Identifying people for leadership roles who possess these latent abilities – even if they are still in raw form – is crucial since these characteristics are more difficult to cultivate within adults. Four indicators to spot leadership potential:

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What is Virtuous Leadership?

Those who really deserve praise are the people who, while human enough to enjoy power nevertheless pay more attention to justice than they are compelled to do by their situation.                                                                                                -Thucydides

Dwayne (fictitious name) recently retired after twenty-five years as president of a U.S. company. During his tenure, the business had doubled its customer base and added four new buildings to its physical plant. His leadership was widely considered successful. When Dwayne announced his retirement, the board announced that they would name one of the newly-constructed buildings in his honor. Dwayne was well-known and respected in his network.  His forty-seven-year marriage to Sarah was exemplary. He demonstrated discipline and modesty in his personal finances. During the last ten years of his presidency, Dwayne had been invited to serve on several boards of other organizations; he was generally respected by other senior executives. In contrast, Dwayne’s employees observed a different kind of leader.

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