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Face The Challenge - Sample Section, Chapter 6

Chapter Six - Character Traits and Values

"Character Traits and Values" further assesses the leadership character from an emotional standpoint and illustrates how certain leadership traits, values, principles, interactive behaviors, or ethics contribute to or detract from a Leader's overall effectiveness. It scrutinizes a wide range of emotional reactions that Leaders characteristically experience due to the inherent pressures associated with their responsibilities, and analyzes possible Subordinate responses to the Leader's behavior, personal values, ethics, or principles.



6.1 Balancing Power and Ego.  A Leader's mature, dignified, gracious, and unassuming exercise of power is by itself worthy of his or her Subordinates' respect.  Conversely, Leaders who continually seek center stage, who arrogantly brandish their position power, or who fail to acknowledge or adequately reward their Subordinates' contributions; are correctly judged as being self-centered, egotistical, morally low, meanspirited, contemptible, or all the above.  While Leaders who demonstrate a modest, unpretentious, reserved self-estimate of their own importance are far more likely to be highly regarded by their Subordinates, peers, or superiors than those who are given to vainly talking about themselves, boasting, or who seem indifferent to the general welfare or feelings of others.  As such self-absorbed narcissists rapidly deplete their motivational capital account and significantly reduce their operational effectiveness; creating unnecessary leadership obstacles that are all but impossible to surmount through an intimidating leadership style or bullying their Subordinates into submission with their position power.  Thus delusions of grandeur or similar ignoble exaltations as to his or her own self-worth will eventually alienate even the Leader's most unwaveringly loyal or sycophantic Subordinates.  And, highly temperamental Leaders who assume that privileged treatment or Subordinate adulation is an unquestionable, innate right due to the higher echelons, or who respond with childish petulance to constructive criticism or the slightest inconvenience, invariably exasperate the patience of even their closest associates.  However, all Leaders (as well as all human beings) possess undesirable personality traits that can be a potential source of controversy or embarrassment.  And the negative behaviors (e.g., belittling remarks, capricious terminations, yelling and screaming, or fist-pounding) associated with these counterproductive proclivities most often result from a Leader's personal fears or emotional vulnerabilities.  Leaders must therefore guard against any inclination to indulge themselves in such egocentric behaviors and ardently work to reduce their frequency.  For quite accurately: "a person with high self-esteem, who is secure, shows this feeling of strength of self-confidence in a kind, cooperative, and friendly fashion.  [conversely] The person who is high in self-esteem and is also insecure is interested not so much in helping weaker people as in dominating them and hurting [oppressing] them" (Abraham H. Maslow, American Behavioral Psychologist, 1908-1970)  MP p45).  Thus whatever a Leader does or how he or she behaves clearly demonstrates the kind of person he or she truly is, regardless of the superficial packaging; and only the most motivationally deranged Leaders can fool themselves into believing otherwise.  So while no Leader probably exists at any level who does not have some taste for power, he or she should learn not only to "relish the dish;" but be determined to leave a constructive imprint for others to pattern themselves after (H. William Brands, TRR p419).  However, many times "the effect of power and publicity on all men [women] is the aggravation of self, a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim's sympathies" (Henry Adams) and his or her objectivity; if he or she does not carefully monitor his or her own behavior once having downed a significant quaff from the hierarchical well.

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Copyright 2006 by H. Garrett Hayward from Face the Challenge: The Leader's Success Handbook