Character Matters: Character-based Leadership and How it Influences How We Lead

Session #1 of Leading From the Inside Out: Transforming Leadership 2019 Program
February 27, 2019

Leadership is a combination of three elements: competence, commitment to the leadership role, and character. Character has traditionally received the least attention of these three pillars – both in research, as well as in our daily conversations and workplace practices – even though it underpins effective decision-making in all three sectors: public, private and not-for-profit.

However, almost all of us instinctively know that character is critical to good leadership and an integral part of how we assess those in leadership positions. Take a moment to think about prominent leaders (both “good” and “bad”), whether in government, business, sports or other areas - it is impossible to ignore their character!  So why is it then, that character is not a more common and robust aspect of leadership development programs? Research conducted by the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership at Ivey Business School has uncovered a few common beliefs/reasons:

  • We often do not know what character is or what it means
  • We believe it is subjective      
  • We often believe it is something we are born with, or at least set in place during childhood
  • We do not have language with which to address character – good and bad – within the workplace

All of the above beliefs or reasons however are completely contrary to the revelations of current research: character can be defined, assessed, measured, and taught and develo­­­ped at any age.  In fact, the more we exercise our character, the more integrated it becomes into our habit of being.

Kimberley Milani will present the multi-year research conducted by the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership at the Ivey Business School with leaders from all sectors. She will outline the various dimensions of leader character and provide you with exercises you can perform to cultivate your own.

Session Objectives: 

  • Explain the 3 Cs of leadership: competence, commitment, character.
  • Define the meaning of leadership character, including what it is and why it is important.
  • Show how character can be defined, assessed and developed in individuals.
  • Demonstrate how and why character matters to both individual and organizational leadership, as much, if not more, than competence and commitment.

Interactive Component: You will engage in multiple rounds of reflection and lively discussion about the various dimensions of character and how it can be exercised and cultivated

About the Presenter:

Kimberley Milani
Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership
Ivey Business School

Kimberley has spent the last 17 years in managerial and director positions in academic centres and institutes at Western University.  For ten years, she was the Director of The Circle Women’s Centre, a community facing feminist centre at Brescia University College (an affiliate of Western, and Canada’s only women’s university) that operated using a unique and cultivated process of collective leadership. Following one particularly inspiring and ultimately, watershed event focusing on women’s leadership, Kimberley became a founding member of the Institute for Women in Leadership (IWIL) at Brescia and assumed the Director’s position for seven years.  In 2017, she joined Ivey Business School’s Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership, an Institute at the forefront of knowledge creation in the leader character area.

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