Sound Leadership Derives from Character

Leadership and Character

Many would argue that the political divide has never been as wide as it is today. And some would also argue that for that very reason the need for good leadership could not possibly be greater. So why does this essential commodity seems so woefully lacking in our times? As you might expect, the evidence points to character.

What makes a a good leader? Social scientists of various persuasions have been studying this very question for a long time. But it turns out that even the concept of leadership is not as easy to define as you might think. And, as you might suspect, styles of leadership vary considerably. Moreover, cultures vary in what people expect of their leaders. So, it’s a lot easier to say what leadership isn’t than it is to define exactly what it is.

Are Leaders Born or Made?

We’ve all heard someone referred to as a “born leader.” But evidence suggests no one is endowed by nature with good leadership ability. A person might indeed have some personality traits and predispositions that improve their odds for effectively leading (e.g., organizational ability, sociability, the charisma to motivate and influence, etc.). But leadership skill is just that:  a set of acquired habits (i.e. skill) that also has to be developed. Raw talent helps, to be sure. But even the most relevant talents have to be both nurtured and refined if one is going become an effective leader.

Leadership, Power, and Influence

Leadership is not synonymous with power. You can acquire power over people in all sorts of ways.  That includes outright coercion and covert manipulation.  True leadership is more than wielding power. Strong leaders have the power to influence and motivate. They also have the skills organize and unite. Leaders do more than take action; they mobilize others into action. They inspire. And they galvanize.

Good and Bad Leadership

Leadership is not an inherently positive skill. History is replete with examples of leaders who led their country’s families, businesses, and even their critical social and political institutions into ruin. History is also full of examples of astute leaders who secured immense personal gain at the expense of those they purported to serve. Just as a good leader can be key to the success of an enterprise, so can a bad leader be the instrument of true disaster. So, being a positive leader isn’t just about having the requisite skills.  Ultimately, it’s about character.

Leaders Depend on the Assent of Those Led

Leaders never do what they do alone. Sure, we turn to our leaders for direction and guidance. But even the most skilled and influential leaders have to depend on both the consent and cooperation (albeit unwitting sometimes) of those they lead. Demagogues know this well. And they know how to to appeal to the fears, insecurities, prejudices, and yearnings of those they seek lead. The formula is simple: promise folks what you know they want, convince them you can deliver, and the’ll surrender power to you.

The leadership drought we find ourselves experiencing extends beyond our politics. It affects our board room decision, our civic organizations, even our marriages. And, of course, it’s an outgrowth of our character crisis. But if there were ever a time we needed strong, principled leaders, it’s now. Still, history has taught us some poignant lessons about what can happen when we don’t have people of integrity leading us. And the biggest lesson of all is that noble leadership can only arise out of good character.

Summary Notes

You’ll find a lot more on character, influence, and power in my book Character Disturbance. And I’ll be talking more about this topic on Character Matters. The program will air live Sunday, December 3, at 7 pm Eastern Time. Call in at (501) 258-8326 to join the conversation.

29 thoughts on “Sound Leadership Derives from Character

  1. Dr. Simon,

    One problem I have is when there are so many who are seeking leadership positions-for reasons that have little to nothing to do with the position. When self serving interests are prevalent from the get-go, it doesn’t seem to bode well for anyone.

    1. JC

      That’s because many people can’t see the forest for the trees and elect bad people because they apparently can’t distinguish between the two. If the best choice the people have got is between a rock and hard place then what’s the resolution?

      Find another place.

  2. I was fortunate to have a prime example of a leader through my volunteering doing trail maintenance and trail building for hikers, bikers and horses.
    Our leader was an inspiration, was passionate about doing what he did. He had a grand vision of what the trail would be (over 200 miles and crossing into a bordering state.) We called him the Pied Piper, because we so believed in him we’d follow him wherever he chose. He organized trail build events, built a website, created committees.
    His organization skills were excellent. He owned and sold a successful business, and when he retired young the trail build became his passion.
    He died tragically and since others have taken over his duties, but we all miss him terribly.

  3. This is an eye opener one doctors take on congress and then some.

    Perhaps 20-40% of our population goes through life never knowing they even have DTD. That’s why many of them go on to become leaders of industry and government. That’s why Dr. van der Kolk has said that the US Congress is “dissociated,” or they’d feel the simple human compassion to know that sending youth to war brings back a flood of PTSD suicides. (To me that means more than 50% of Congress has attachment problems, which is why they made a career of trying to control others. )

    DDT is what Dr Kolk has been hitting a brick wall with the APA for years. It is currently known as Borderline PD. This is a pretty eye opening article. Who really runs the world – it’s pretty obvious to me.

    I’ve probably listened to at least well in excess of several hundred hours of congressional hearings and from what I’ve seen – I’d say closer to 80% is it any wonder this world is in the state it’s in………………………………………

    1. Eudox,

      Thank you for posting this important information and highly recommend everyone to read it and listen to the links. Its an obvious fact that trauma begins in the womb, continuing through the early years and forms the child’s identity. I have observed this developmental trauma first hand in many of the CDN I know.

      I completely agree with Van der Kolts work and hope he is successful in getting the medical profession to acknowledge and utilize his work. I see little chance of this happening as the APA will continue to stand in the way along with the powers that be. The CD government wants people sick, we are more controllable that way. Its time to wake up!

    2. Eudox

      I’ll watch that as soon as I get a chance. I am horrified at the leadership in the United States, the total disregard for those who are not corporate leaders nor wealthy – the Republican Party.

      1. Lucy,

        Both are as bad as each other. There is no division, the hidden hand runs everything behind the scenes. They are all just puppets on the end of their master’s strings. I am no longer interested in the geopolitics of this world. I have my geopolitical analysts I trust and who have got it right in the past.

        HRC is a perfect example of a malignant borderline I’ve just been discussing. In the book Crisis of Character written by Gary Byrne which is one of many and referred to by main stream media as the latest consipracy out about the Clintons LOL. yea right! She’s a psychopath so is Bill.

        As one amazing Oxfam and Rawanda genocide reporter quoted “if you believe anything written by the New York Times or the Washington Post you are just contributing to your own mental illness” and I totally concur with that.

        Just be grateful for the lesser of two evils here. I have not spent nearly the amount of time investigating Trump as I have the Clintons and this goes back a very long way nearly two decades, they came onto my radar a very long time ago. These two make Bonnie and Clyde look like Tweedle Dum and Dweedle Dee.

        I don’t vote and refuse to vote for psychopaths and let’s face it – this is exactly why the world is the way it is. Because people believe the B/S that is presented by MSM who is owned by the same board of directors as the banks, the weapons manufacturers and the white house (yes their asses are owned). It’s one big corrupt rort from start to finish. War is big business and psychopaths don’t give a rat’s ass who dies as long as they keep those profits rolling in. We operate in fraud and deceit.

        Nothing will change until people stop excepting what they hear on the TV as truth. It’s never been truth. It’s why BBC is referred to as British Brainwashing Corporation. And in all honesty if our leaders are a reflection of our collective consciousness then what does that say for the general population??????????????

        Everything is totally corrupt and that applies to nearly all countries – all in the West at any rate.

    3. Borderline is what my the the mother probably had. As I hve done some reseach on this. It is what women get diagnosed with. Men if they have boaderline traits, they get diagnosed as A.S.P.D.( psycopathIc)

      1. Joey,

        I believe there are malignant and benign borderlines. The benign borderlines having no comorbidities with others of Cluster B pathology. I think both my daughter and ex best friend are malignant borderlines with comorbidites of A’Social yes psychopaths. It’s that cold raw malice that exists in them. It truly is not only necrophilic but manifests as demonic.

        With the benign borderlines they still have serious emotional dysregulation which Richard Grannon explains very well but they are absent the characteristic traits of the other pathologies. They can still go from Saint to Full Chuckey in 0 – 60 but they generally feel guilty about it and it freaks them out but they can’t control it.

        From the ones I know about there is no pathological lying or other harmful traits directed at others. They still, however, suffer from split thinking so they can harm others in this regard. They are the ones who self harm – cutting, burning etc. Suicide attempts and suicide ideation. It’s the benign borderlines who require re-classification to what Kolk suggest Developmental Trauma Disorder.

        The movie Mommy Dearest with Joan Crawford shows a malignant borderline. Similar character to hers in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane – that underlying malice and envy is ever present. They are just purely malevolent and it is ever present.

        That article in it’s entirety is alarming and shows true psychopathology of some doctors of the APA particularly in regard to the comment made about father/daughter incest and how in their opinion it’s benign. I BEG TO F**^^*** DIFFER.

        1. One other thing the old bloke I look after is one. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that is the case with him. I’ve got his emotional dysregulation under control now – well rather I can bring him back into regulation relatively quickly.

          The minute he starts to go into hyperdrive I just bring him straight back into alignment. It’s as simple as that and bang – diffused without further issue. But he’s past the point where he is likely to respond to therapy but I am going to sit down with him and show him The Discipline Richard Grannon and Leyla Loric put it together.

          It’s based on DBT which was created by Dr Marsha Linehan. It would also be good for people suffering CPTSD from acute narc abuse. I thought about NARP for him but it’s too involved and the modules in that are nearly 2 hours long. Due to his brain functionality he would not be able to maintain Theta frequency for extended periods.

          As for the malignant borderlines they’d go into block mode and just keep abusing. They are beyond help I think after all in their minds there is nothing wrong with them it’s everybody else.

        2. I want to re-frame the above.

          From the ones I know about there is no pathological lying or other harmful traits directed at others. They still, however, suffer from split thinking so they can harm others in this regard [UNINTENTIONALLY]. They are the ones who self harm – cutting, burning etc. Suicide attempts and frequent suicide ideation.

          It’s the benign borderlines who require re-classification to what Kolk suggests Developmental Trauma Disorder.

          The CD do it INTENTIONALLY and deliberately…………….to suck our souls dry so therefore they should remain in that cluster with their various comorbidities. A smorgasboard of insanity.

        3. EU – sorry to hear about your daughter. Its hard to see these things and have no power to affect them. I think when its close family members like our children its the worst. Others can come and go in our life but our children are always our children. And for those who had CD parents, that’s even harder to deal with.

  4. They can also be Hyper sexual. I have had three women, “Shall I say” Display themselves
    to me. As Shraon Stone did in that film. I never took the bait.
    I thought at the time, “This is really all they will ever bring with them”

      1. Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction was a malignant borderline in my estimation anyway. Then there was Play Misty for Me with Clint Eastwood and can’t remember the psycho – but probably borderline.

        Same Film re-made

        Borderlines have a perceived fear of abadonment, it does not mean they are going to be abandoned, they just think they are. This can cause them to lash out. They are underneath a very young child of 2-3-4 yrs old. They never developed the capcity to control their emotions.
        The average 2 yr old is grandious,entitiled, unempathic, does not process any sense of shame. Will lie and is prone to violent out bursts.
        These traits in adults would quilify them to be considered psycopathic.
        If you have no control over your emotions as you would be at 2yrs.

        This just make you emotionally underdeveloped not Psycopathic.

        This is the problem with borderline, particularly in Men

  5. Can’t remember the Sharon Stone movie exactly but Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction was a malignant borderline in my estimation anyway. Then there was Play Misty for Me with Clint Eastwood and can’t remember the psycho – but probably borderline.

    Then you’ve got Harley Quin – the character from Suicide Squad – Histrionic psychopath, then you have Taylor Swift in that song Blank Space – Histrionic psychopath.

    The million dollar question is what was the guy in Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock) anybody care to take a punt???????

    A smorgasboard of insanity………………………….

    The list is truly endless that crazy f**^*er who attempted to terrorize me with the pink and blue hair I dare say Harley Quinn was her role model because she was another histrionic psychopath.

    1. Eudox

      Alfred Hitchcock’s Norman – yes he was creepy. Split personality? He would portray to be his mother.

      I can’t say I’ve been bothered by anyone besides my dearest X husband, who still taunts me. The jerk needs new prey. I’m onto him.

  6. Hi Guys!

    Been busy lately. Good to see nearly all of you are still here!

    Joey, I had a chuckle when I read your comments about three women displaying themselves like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. It would be just plain weird if they looked like Sharon Stone…but…if they looked like the actress from Throw Momma From the Train…omg.

    1. LisaO

      One was 22yrs old the other was 51 yrs old, the 3rd was 20. I was 32yrs at the time. I was trainng in Judo and Wrestling. I was built like Dan Seven of UFC fame and very fit.
      The 22yr old I will call “T”, said to me ” You can afford £275 a month can’nt you”
      I said ” Yes I could, why”
      T Said ” But you have buy a double bed”

      “T” was Weired, She was very pritty, BUT Cloud CUCKOOO

      The 51yr old Just wanted her GATE LUBRICATED.

      The 20yr old “NONE STARTER”. She spent 45 mins telling me how she had DUMPED HER LAST BOY FREIND BY TEXT.

      This latest one, I have met looks like Diana Ross .
      This one is strange as well, She does’nt phone me BUT , wants to see me again. I know this because I have seen her friend since and has told me this

  7. Norman was a paranoid schizophrenic sociopath. Think his character was based on Ed Geins.

    Now big Ed Kemper, he was something else. Talk about mother issues. He was also very tall, like close to 7 feet. So there may have been some hormonal weirdness going on there. Eudoxia, do you know of this character? If so, your input would be greatly appreciated!

    You can see it all on the Netflix series, Mindhunter.

  8. The woman in Play Misty for Me was SO scary. Extreme borderline. I was very nearly stuck in a friendship with one of these types. I sensed from early on to back away S-l-o-w-l-y.

    The chaos some of these types generate is unsettling and bizarre. She wasn’t dangerous, just to everyone’s peace of mind. My natural inclination is to help people but I knew with her it would be like trying to save a drowning person who drags you under with them.

    1. LisaO

      I knew with her it would be like trying to save a drowning person who drags you under with them.

      That was my Mother, That’s Why I left

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