The character of leaders is important to any organization. It is the foundation of a positive organizational culture. Leaders of character establish a positive work environment of inclusion, diversity and respect. These leaders are humble yet have the moral courage to stay true to their beliefs and they demonstrate this through their actions. This type of leadership guides an organization in dealing with its many stakeholders in a consistently appropriate manner.
When leaders of character are in short supply, alignment to organizational goals becomes reduced to alignment with personal goals. This erodes the organizational culture from one of acceptance and inclusion to one of competition and exclusion.
The impacts arising from a lack of character in leadership have been seen many times. Corporate scandals such as those at Wells Fargo & Co, Mylan, and most recently Samsung Group demonstrate the negative outcomes that can occur when organizations lack leaders of character.
At the individual level, leading with character empowers employees to perform to their potential in alignment with organizational goals. This type of leadership provides examples of appropriate behavior to followers; behavior that followers will adapt and perpetuate throughout the organization.
One who leads with character also understands that character is learned and an important part of the learning includes making mistakes. A leader of character realizes that followers will make mistakes and that they need the opportunity to learn from their mistakes to become better persons and leaders themselves.
It is imperative that today’s leaders understand the important influences character and moral development have on followers and their organization. In William Woods University’s online concentration in leadership you are afforded the opportunity to develop an understanding of and commitment to personal values. You learn how to recognize ethical issues confronting leaders and followers to include challenges to one’s character.
Dr. Stephen Forsha is the business, law, technology and languages division chair and program director for online undergraduate business programs at William Woods University.