Book Review: The Character-Based Leader

I recently read The Character-Based Leader – a great book written by a number of the members of the Lead Change GroupThe Character-Based Leader is not a leadership book in the traditional sense of one or two people explaining a philosophy of leadership.  Instead it’s a collection of perspectives on leadership and the role of character in the definition of leadership.

Here are a few things I found particularly great:

  • The power of naming yourself a leader – that subtle but important shift when you go from doing a job (I lead a team of people) to self-identifying with the role (I am a leader).
  • The exploration of the “leadership gap” – the paradox of the proliferation of leadership information available on the internet and the simultaneous explosion of examples of poor leadership and trust violation by people in leadership positions.
  • The idea that, whether or not you hold a title that names you a leader, every one of us has the opportunity to step up and display leadership qualities on a regular basis.  It’s how we approach these opportunities that allows us to develop the character-based, authentic leader that is inside us.
  • The concept of true personal connection as the root of leadership (as exemplified by Abraham Lincoln, among others.

There is a strong core message that runs through all of the disparate voices in the book – the idea that leadership comes from a place inside.  It is not a label that can be conveniently applied and removed at will, but rather is a quality of personal belief that defines a leader.  That’s a strong and important message in today’s world of immediate gratification and here-today gone-tomorrow celebrity.

The Character-Based Leader strikes a nice balance between abstract theory and practical advice.  While some chapters range up into the realm of theoretical discourse, others dive into concrete examples and actionable steps that any leader can take and incorporate into their daily lives.  But above all else this book inspired me to keep my focus on doing my best every day.  Not to try to be someone I’m not, but to bring myself and my values to the table.

Big kudos to Lead Change Group for putting out this book and continuing to inspire emerging and experienced leaders to be their best.

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