The Leadership Skill That Causes Utter Failure

The list of skills one must possess to sustain leadership success is long. But the list of skills that causes a leader to fail utterly is much shorter. It almost always boils down to one; character. 

Recent examples like Jeff Skilling, the CEO who caused the collapse of Enron, or Bernie Madoff, who orchestrated one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in history, point to the lack of character as a fatal leadership flaw.  

Conversely, the presence of high character in a leader has a positive effect. For example, one study asked participants, “what’s the most important quality a leader must possess to follow them or turn the other way?” The most popular answer was summarized as character.  

Before we go any further, it’s always tricky writing about character, because it has a natural connotation that you have mastered it yourself. While I think long and hard about the leader and man I am becoming, I don’t pretend to have the skill mastered. However, in my work studying and coaching leaders, it’s the most essential leadership skill that doesn’t get enough attention.

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