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Excerpt from the Book
The term “Character-Based Leadership,” as used by the authors, rose out of a desire to capture the idea of leadership being espoused by a group of leaders in social media and Internet channels in the summer and fall of 2009. The group had been formed in late March of 2009 with an initial mission of “applying leadership to make a positive difference.” As the members of this social community began to interact more, the term Character-Based Leadership began to surface.
In a series of conference calls, we adopted the term Character-Based Leadership to characterize the type of leadership we commonly shared, but even then members of the group had trouble defining it. The group’s mission became “applying Character-Based Leadership to make a positive difference.”
Initially, some members felt that we should direct our efforts at defining character by creating a list of core traits. Others thought the focus should be more on a central common definition avoiding the creation of another list of character traits, so throughout the winter of 2009, we all attempted to define Character-Based Leadership with a simple definition. Finally, after considering the many things Character-Based Leadership was not, we decided that it was leading from who you are, rather than from your position or power. Character-Based Leadership is not a particular style of leadership or a key set of behaviors. Rather, it is, to paraphrase Mark Oakes, making the decision that you are a leader. Instead of simply deciding to run a triathlon, a greater transformation occurs when you decide to become a triathlete. At that point, your actions emanate from who you are. Character-Based Leadership is not a list of behaviors, but is about who you are at your core.
Once that definition was decided and articulated, however, the problem wasn’t solved. Fifteen of us met at LeaderPalooza 2010 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and a number of other things became quickly apparent in our relationship. First, we each agreed that we see a movement taking place. People aren’t satisfied with where they are and where leaders are. We trust leaders less than ever. Many of the generation entering the workforce do not aspire to become leaders.
We have a crisis of leadership and a need to personally be involved in changing the world of leadership for the better. It’s not that we feel leadership development is the problem, but rather that the current methods aren’t keeping pace with the need expressed by individuals. In a way, individuals in the world are in search of leadership help faster and in a greater variety than it is being provided. We wanted to be a part of the revolution that we were experiencing. In fact, as Susan Mazza eloquently stated, we wanted to take part in instigating this revolution.
Second, we all agreed that Character-Based Leadership is needed,
and we were (and are) excited to advance the idea. However we each
used different words, feelings and descriptive concepts to voice our
thoughts. Each of us describes Character-Based Leadership differently,
and yet we agree. Even in writing this book, we balance a desire to
maintain the individuality of the authors while creating a cohesive
message that resonates. When we each bring the best of who we are to
the practice of leadership, we find that each person’s character varies the
definition. Snowflakes share characteristics but they say no two are
exactly alike. No two people are exactly alike. Therefore, no two people
will live the definition of a Character-Based Leader the same.
This is our attempt to connect you with your own inner passion to
live your life as the change you believe the world needs.
You will see three core underlying principles running through the
descriptions in the following chapters:
1. Leadership is influence.
2. Influence is given.
3. People give influence based on competence, trust and purpose.
Each principle forms the foundation of what you’re about to read.