The Five Pillars of Virtuous Leadership
By Nico Hohman
As a leader, you must act with virtue in all that you do. Without virtue, all the other elements of leadership would fail. Elements like trust, confidence, honesty, sympathy, and integrity all have their basis in virtue.
A good organization - one that is led by a great leader who is dedicated to building the Common Good and changing the world - is built upon good virtues. However, there is a scale to each one of these ideals. A leader can be overzealous when it comes to demanding loyalty or that leader could be uncaring when it comes to showing sympathy. You never want to turn the dial over ten, but you certainly don’t want to keep it at zero either.
As a leader, you should lead, guide, and decide with these five virtues.
As a leader, you will be presented with situations both good and bad. One of your employees might do something that makes you proud, like taking the extra initiative to help a potential customer. Or, a member of your congregation might do something that makes you cringe, like insulting a helpless victim of your organization. It is important for leaders to be able to regulate their responses to these situations.
Leaders should never get too high or too low. In nearly every situation, virtuous leaders should lead right down the middle.
When leaders are faced with making decisions, they should aim to respond in a manner that is consistent with their virtues. To keep this level of consistency, all decisions made by a leader should have a certain amount of the following five virtues: Empathy, Anger, Advice, Courage, and Transcendence. Combined, these five virtues make up your five Pillars of Virtuous Leadership. Virtuous leaders use a balance of these five specific virtues in order to respond to any situation in a manner that nourishes the Five Major Cares: care for others, care for the community, care for important institutions, care for mother nature, and care for dignified capital.
Each one of the five Pillars of Virtuous Leadership corresponds to one of the Big Five personality traits: agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion, and openness to experience. The Big Five psychological theory stems from the fact that most descriptions of someone’s personality, temperament, and psyche, as recorded during a self-evaluation survey, can be categorized into one of these five major categories.
Empathy is the act of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experiences of another without having those feelings, thoughts, and experiences fully communicated in an explicit manner. Empathetic leaders have a high propensity to care about the world around them. Empathy corresponds directly with agreeableness. Agreeable leaders value getting along with others. They are considerate, kind, generous, trusting, and helpful. They're willing to compromise, so long as those compromises don’t tarnish their virtues. They have an optimistic view of human nature and tend to encourage team harmony through transformational leadership skills.
Anger is the strong feeling you get when you think someone has treated you badly or unfairly. That feeling can make you want to hurt them or shout at them or force you into a fit of violent wrath. Anger can also motivate you to accomplish things outside of your normal scope of duties and expectations. Anger, when channeled correctly, will drive you to amend the way you feel about something by making you want to fix that injustice or inconsistency in order to make you and others feel whole. Anger corresponds directly with neuroticism. Neurotic leaders have the tendency to experience negative emotions more often than positive ones. They’re often linked with having a low tolerance for worry and anxiety. They can be emotionally reactive and highly susceptible to stress. They are more likely to overreact and see the threats and weaknesses versus the opportunities and strengths in most situations. While on the surface this may seem like a personal detriment, neurotic leaders tend to be the best change agents.
Advice means to provide a recommendation regarding a decision or course of conduct. It means to give counsel or useful information to someone who then can use that proposal for an appropriate course of action. Advice corresponds directly to conscientiousness. Conscientious leaders have higher levels of self- discipline. They can regulate their impulses and they often strive for externally motivated achievements. High conscientiousness can be perceived as being driven and focused but also stubborn. Low conscientiousness can be associated with being flexible and spontaneous but also disordered.
Courage is the ability to do something that you know is right or good, even though it is dangerous, frightening, or difficult. It means your ability to be brave, moral, or persistent when you are in great pain whether that be physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional discomfort. Courage corresponds directly to extraversion. Extraversion is having a marked engagement with the external world. It is characterized by wanting a wide range of various activities versus a small focus of a few topics. Extraverts enjoy interacting with people from all walks of life. They are enthusiastic and full of energy. Extraverted leaders possess high group visibility, like to talk, and assert themselves in situations when others need their help.
Transcendence is the state of excelling or surpassing or going beyond the usual limits of material experiences. It is the feeling you get when you are in the zone or when you’re completely engrossed by a task or an experience. Transcendence is the sensation of walking through a modern art museum or ancient cathedral and knowing that you’re part of something bigger than yourself. Transcendence corresponds directly with openness to experience. Openness to experience is a general appreciation for art, adventure, unusual ideas, imagination, and the divine nature of humanity. Open leaders are intellectually curious. They are interested, willing, and able to feel a wide range of emotions. They see the beauty in all things because in some sense everything is extraordinary. Open and transcendent leaders are ready to explore new means and methods of completing their ordinary tasks.
The Eaactive Leadership Style Assessment
The purpose of the Eaactive Leadership Style Assessment (ELSA) is to allow an aspiring leader to discover what is their leadership style while discovering how they can use their virtues to better lead, guide, and decide.
Click here to take the free Eaactive Leadership Style Assessment (ELSA).
The ELSA is a powerful virtues-based indicator tool that will give you techniques on how to best serve, motivate, and inspire others as well as how to create a better community for your employees, constituents, congregations, and followers. The assessment asks a series of questions, each one addressing one or several of the five Pillars of Virtues Leadership. Based on the respondent's answers, aspiring leaders are perceived to either have a lower or higher than average amount of each of the five Pillars. Ranging from a combination of all low to all high levels, there are a total of 32 different outcomes for an aspiring leader.
No one Eaactive Leadership Style is better or worse than the other. Instead, the styles simply express to the leader and his or her followers how they would be expected to respond when making a decision for the organization.
Discover your Eaactive Leadership Style today by taking the free assessment here.
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Nico Hohman, the Founder of Eaactive Leadership, is an award-winning leadership, real estate, and construction consultant with an extensive background in business development, sales training, and change management roles throughout the United States. Nico serves business executives and aspiring leaders on how to sustainably grow their organizations through better use of their physical and knowledge-based assets. Nico's focus is to help others be leaders in their communities, guide their followers, and make better decisions using the findings of their personalized Eaactive Leadership Style Assessment (ELSA). You can connect with Nico on LinkedIn and get the latest daily updates on the Assorted Questions & Such blog.
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