In Business and Governance, Sustainable Energy comes from Character

In an organization, the character of leaders is a source of energy. Domenic Barton, the head of McKinsey & Co.’s global consulting practice, said: ‘‘When we think about leadership, we focus too much on what leaders do. We don’t spend enough time on who leaders are — the character of leaders.’’ Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney said, “Employees need a sense of broader purpose, grounded in strong connections to their clients and their communities. Few among the hundreds of C-suite leaders and board directors with whom we have discussed this would disagree.”

Leaders readily agree that ‘‘character matters’’ but they also say they seldom refer to it or talk about it. Neither do they use it in recruiting, selecting, promoting or developing leaders. It does however surface more often when it comes to firing them.  Based on our research, we attribute the gap between the perceived importance and the actual use of character to three things:

First, there is a great deal of ambiguity about what is meant by the word character.

Second, leaders tell us that what they need is a contemporary, practice-focused vocabulary with which to address character. This vocabulary must be expressed in language used today in their organizations.

Third, there are few reliable and valid tools available for the systematic assessment of character. Leaders say they need that to be actually doing something about it. (This author questions that assertion.)

There is also evidence that 21 percent of CEO’s, at least in the United States, are Psychopaths.

“The data has confirmed that one in five chief executives are psychopaths. At least, that’s what was found by a recent study of 261 senior corporate professionals in the United States. Webster’s Dictionary defines a psychopath as “a person who does not care about other people, and who is often dangerous or violent and affected with antisocial behavior.” (5)

The assumption that a whole system can be made to work better through an assault on its rational elements betrays a dangerous ignorance. This has often been the approach of scientists and technologists. However, Frank Herbert states, “In all the universe there is only the insatiable appetite of matter…, that energy is the only true solid…, and energy learns.”( 4)  Such learning is always the sum of intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual activity.  We can get very smart cognitively yet remain uninformed emotionally, spiritually, or physically.  In an energetic paradigm, we begin with willingness to be cause-in-the-matter of energy in the entire system.


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Charles SmithCHARLES E. SMITH Ph.D Charlie is Executive Editor of the Journal of Collaborative Innovation in the Library of Professional Coaching. A highly-experienced Futurist, Author, and Executive Coach, current interests are in deep dives into the nature of Collaborative Innovation, conscious conversations, and engaging large numbers of kindred spirits and businesses. For fifty years, he has been a personal and leadership coach and organizational behavior consultant stimulating breakthrough thinking, culture change and seemingly impossible results. A graduate of the Boston Public Latin School, Charlie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Relations from Harvard College, an MBA from the Harvard Business School, a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University, and a Certificate in Gestalt Methods from the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland. He was Visiting Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at Sir George Williams University in Montreal, former President of the Harvard-Radcliffe Club of New Mexico, and Editor of Transformation Magazine published by the Library of Professional Coaching. Dr. Smith has written three books, "The Merlin Factor, Leadership and Strategic Intent” "Navigating from the Future," “Don’t be a Noodle in Someone Else’s Soup” and many articles located in the Library of Professional Coaching and Eruditio, a Journal of the World Academy of Art and Science.

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