Our World Class Leadership Summit in Islington, hosted many inspirational speakers including Polar Explorer Ann Daniels and Former SAS Major Floyd Woodrow. Here Academy Speaker Simon Hartley discusses the importance of character, and why you need to be a good person to become a great leader.
Those are characteristics. These are elements of character. Think back to what you heard from Ann earlier about those characteristics that allow people to take on those challenges and lead others through those challenges, and the characteristics that Floyd outlined – toughness and resilience and honesty and integrity, all of those sorts of things. They’re all elements of character. And this is the fundamental piece of the jigsaw from my point of view. If I was to ask you, “Describe those things, those qualities, that you want in your people”, you tell me about character. And importantly, character, it’s not knowledge. It’s not skills, it’s not even personality. This is character we’re talking about, elements of people’s character. It’s not just important in business either, the very best sporting organisation on earth understand this fundamentally. The All Blacks have got a saying, ‘better people make better All Blacks’. I suspect better people also make better lawyers, better surgeons, better teachers and probably better business leaders as well. They understand that if we want great professionals and we want great players on the field, fundamentally we have to have good people and so they really understand that we need people who are able to be self-critical in a really positive way. We need people who are able to take responsibility and be held to account and hold others to account. Those are the kinds of people we need. We need people who are going to get stuck in and roll up their sleeves, and when things are going wrong they’re going to step up not drop back. Those are the kinds of people we need. They actually understand that their culture is collective character and if we don’t get the character right we’re never going to get the culture right.