The Five Pillars of Virtuous Leadership
By Nico Hohman
As a leader, you should lead, guide, and decide with these five virtues.
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.