Character Development As Strategy To Eradicate Leadership Toxicity

Over the years, we have seen leadership impact tremendous changes worldwide in countries, organisations, and communities. For example, leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi have fought for social justice and equality, while others like Martin Luther King Jr. have championed civil rights.

In the business world, leaders like Warren Buffet’s ideas have been instrumental in shaping the modern financial system. Over the years, his unique perspective has earned him a reputation as one of the most successful investors in history. Today, his impact can be seen in every corner of the financial world. 

Despite many great leaders having positively impacted the world, organisations, and communities, there are also those whose leadership style is toxic and harmful. 

While the term "toxic leader" may conjure up images of a dictator, the reality is that toxic leadership can take many different forms and is found in all walks of life, from governments and organisations to communities. Toxic leadership is a problem that transcends borders and cultures.

Toxic leadership is a global problem that needs to be addressed.

A study by the Centre for Creative Leadership found that 26 percent of respondents had experienced toxic leadership firsthand. Furthermore, another study found that 33 percent of employees worldwide have left a job because of their boss.

They negatively impact employees' well-being which leads to staff high turnover, decreased productivity, and a lack of trust in leadership. 

Organisations need to create policies and procedures to address and prevent toxic behaviours, and hold leaders accountable for their actions.

So what separates a real leader from a toxic one? One of the main traits is their character. Real Leaders demonstrate a character that is driven by values, moral principles, and ethics.

  1. Values

Most people hold certain values dear. Values may be passed down from their parents, teachers, religious leaders, or even their bosses among a variety of other sources. These values form the core of their philosophy that guides their actions in relation to people and everyday issues.

Leadership values are the foundation on which a leader builds their character. They guide everything that a leader does, from the way they interact with others to the decisions they make.

A great example of a leader with strong values is Mahatma Gandhi. He was a political leader in India who fought for the rights of all people, regardless of caste or religion. He believed in nonviolent protests and civil disobedience to achieve his goals. Gandhi’s leadership had a huge impact on India and the world. He inspired other leaders, like Martin Luther King Jr., to fight for justice and equality.

Gandhi’s values of justice, equality, and nonviolent resistance continue to inspire people today. His legacy shows us that a leader with strong values can make a big difference in the world.

2. Morals

Most people would agree that good morals are essential for effective leadership. After all, how can someone be an effective leader if they don't have the respect of those they're leading? 

A good leader sets the example for others to follow, and that includes exhibiting good morals. Morality is based on a concept of a distinction between right and wrong, and adhering to that distinction in doing what is right.

Nelson Mandela is a perfect example of a leader with strong morals who has made a significant impact. He fought for the rights of his people in South Africa and was eventually jailed for his efforts. However, he did not give up hope or stop fighting for what he believed in. After 27 years in prison, he was released and became the first black president of South Africa. He helped to heal the country's divisions and is now revered as a national hero. His example shows that it is possible to make a difference in the world, even in the face of overwhelming odds.

3. Ethics 

Ethics are defined as society's standards and norms for doing the right thing for the greater good of the community. The notion of ethics is a study of how morality influences individual and group conduct.

Leadership ethics are the standards by which a leader operates. They dictate how a leader should behave to maintain the trust and respect of those they lead.

A perfect example of a leader with strong ethics is Bill Gates. Bill Gates is well-known for being a philanthropist. He has donated billions of dollars to various causes, including global health and education. One of his latest projects is the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge, which is aimed at developing new toilets that are more efficient and effective in countries where sanitation is a major issue.

Gates has said that one of the main reasons he is committed to this project is because of the ethical implications. Sanitation is a basic human right, and yet billions of people around the world do not have access to safe and clean toilets. This puts them at risk of disease and death.

In developed countries, we take sanitation for granted. But for billions of people living in poverty, sanitation is a life-or-death issue. That's why Bill Gates is committed to finding new ways to provide clean toilets for everyone. His work is an example of good ethics in action.

The impact of a leader is far-reaching. They can influence not just their constituents and peers, but also the community and country as a whole. This is why it is so important for leaders to have strong character- values, morals, and ethics.

Real leaders use their influence for good, while toxic leaders are motivated by self-interest and often lack empathy. As our world becomes increasingly complex, the need for positive leadership is more important than ever. When we elect leaders who have good character, we are investing in a brighter future for everyone.

How clear are you about your values? How aligned are your moral principles to withstand the scrutiny of the ethical principles? Which of the three aspects of Character development might you or your team members need to work on to exhibit good character?

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