Our World Class Leadership Summit offered Academy members the opportunity to hear from a range of inspirational speakers including Simon Hartley. On stage, Simon describes his character and why it’s one of the most important traits of a successful leader.
Here’s the way I describe my character. I describe my character as the outward expression of who I am. It’s the way I live my personal qualities, my values, my beliefs and my philosophy. It’s not just having the values the beliefs and the philosophy, it’s the way I live them and, actually, put to the test it’s how I live them when they’re challenged, it’s how I live them when I’m tempted to compromise those things. Abraham Lincoln described it by saying, ‘reputation is the shadow but character is the tree’. So whatever we want to see in that shadow we have to have in the tree. The dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, defines it as ‘the mental and moral qualities that make us distinctive as an individual’. There is the key element, this is the other dimension, it’s not just the mental qualities it’s the moral qualities as well. There’s a guy, Josef Pieper, who’s a German philosopher who says, ‘It’s our ability to do the right thing for the right reason’, not just to do the right thing, not to do the right thing because there’s a reward at the end of it or a consequence if you don’t. Not that, to do the right thing purely because it is the right thing to do. And there’s a little saying in elite sport, ‘Champions are born when nobody’s watching’. So I thought I would take that and send out a social media message, ‘Champions are born while nobody’s watching – what do you do while nobody’s watching?’ In hindsight, I wish I’d never sent the message. There were some replies that okay, fine yeah yeah, but that actually is kind of in a nutshell: ‘What do you do when nobody’s watching?’