Last week saw the release of the annual Fortune World’s 50 Greatest Leader list, which is compiled by canvassing business, government, philanthropy and the arts all over the globe, for men and women who are transforming the world and inspiring others to do the same.
For the first time ever, the list is not topped by a single name but rather, by a group – The Students – at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and others around the U.S.A. whose “courage and tenacity” led the March for Our Lives event. Also, for the first time, a woman’s name was at the top of the list.
Going further down the list at No.5 is Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, who leads 69,000 people globally in one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. He took “a stand against intolerance and extremism” after the violence in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017, by resigning from President Trump’s manufacturing council in protest. In doing so he became a leader to millions.
These leaders, and many others in the current Fortune list are inspiring others to transform the world by behaving differently to the norm. These are the “heroic” leaders who can inspire at all levels without wielding their authority. The leadership literature, and our own research from hundreds of leadership coaching conversations, suggests that it all starts with the leader’s character.
In our latest article 6 Key Learnings About Character, we consider the importance of character strengths in inspirational leadership, drawing from research by Deloitte, Bain & Company, HBR academic authors, and from organisational and positive psychologists. The article posits that cultivating character is unquestionably a key aspect of the self-awareness development journey of every leader. It also suggests that the leader’s character is linked to the organisation’s ability to succeed.
Plus we are pleased to share our list of Books Every Leader Must Read, with the view to encouraging (and yes, inspiring) leaders to continue their own growth journey. Whilst not exhaustive, the list is a gateway to new (and a few not so new) leadership concepts drawn from neuroscience, adult development theory, cognitive behavioural science and positive psychology.
We hope these articles add value to your learning journey. Until the next newsletter edition…
Wishing you continued growth,
PS. We know our previous edition indicated a two-part newsletter on achieving highly effective teams. However, the release of the Fortune list presented the perfect opportunity to explore “the highly inspiring leader” from a character strengths perspective at this time. The second part of the newsletter on achieving highly effective teams will be published down the track.