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  • Are you a good leader but want to get better?
  • What are you willing to do to enhance your leadership skills?

While in graduate school, I learned theories about human behavior. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People provided the roadmap of how to put those theories into practice for anyone, especially leaders. The author of the book used the terms personality ethic and character ethic to describe the difference between intellectual and heartfelt leaders. Intellectuals (those who subscribe to the personality ethic) know the terms. They are motivated for the moment. Stephen Covey calls their interventions quick-fix social band-aids. Whereas the heartfelt (character ethic) leaders understand that lasting change requires self-awareness and the desire to transform.

Real transformation takes time and conscious effort. It’s like learning a new language or losing weight. It won’t happen overnight. But it will happen when people are willing to work at it daily. It is one thing to know concepts and techniques, it’s much more effective when those concepts are incorporated in the spirit and emotion of leaders and team members. I wholeheartedly agree with the words of my former yoga instructor, “You can’t give what you do not have”. In other words, if it is not heartfelt and authentic, you don’t have it.

There are three major categories I committed to transforming in my life through words and deeds. The major categories are humility, empathy, and constructive action. My definitions of these terms are not textbook they come from my heart. To be humble is to treat people the way I want to be treated, even if they do not reciprocate. To be empathic is to see through the eyes, hear through the ears, and feel the world as others feel it. It does not mean you have to agree with them. Constructive action is to walk my talk.

At one point in my career, I was cordial but emotionally distant from my charges. Looking back, I realize that I was using personality ethic techniques rather than leading with heart. With age comes wisdom. Through life experiences, I learned to lead from the heart and employed the character ethic more fully. I am all about continuous improvement. My transformation is a daily work in progress. Some days I do better than others. Overall, I’m getting a little bit better every day. 

What are you willing to do each day on your transformation journey?