The importance of character in leadership

Santiago Ávila, Managing Partner of Executives On Go, and author of “Learning to lead” and “Emotional management” of Pearson Publishing, offered a conference on management under the title Learning to lead. After the session, we spoke with him to learn more about the importance of character in leadership.

Santiago Avila

What qualities should a good leader have?

The truth is that I do not like recipes or lists. In any case, a leader should have clear principles and follow them, while behaving in an exemplary manner. In addition, a good leader is one who cares about the development of the people around him, to believe in them so that all can grow.

What are the differences between a boss and a leader?

Very simple (smiles). The boss is only a boss when he/she is at work, but not elsewhere.  A leader will continue to be so in many other areas of his/her existence, because he/she has internalized a whole series of values and modus operandi that will come to light spontaneously in daily life.

Why is commitment so important to achieving a goal?

Without commitment there is no achievement. For facing any challenge or goal you set, there must be good planning and afterwards a lot of work (committed work). And that implies trust and sincerity is present in your relationship with your colleagues in such project. Talent is not enough.

Do you think the principles and values of leaders and managers are similar? Why?

The principles should be identical. However, values must be adapted to each specific situation, but always grounded on effort and constant dedication. On many occasions it is not so because this type of conditioning is often forgotten for the benefit of a resultant selfishness. Most managers do not really know how to manage, and with this I do not mean to developing a business plan, budget, or update of the flow of funds, I mean character. The importance of character in leadership is such that we could say 90% of leadership problems are character.

Is there a place for ethics and values in a entrepreneurial logic where profits often prevail?

Yes, of course there is, but you have to know how to find it. Depending on what you do, and what you are willing to do, you will find one place or another in the labor market and you will be at a stage of this scale of values. Sometimes, you also have to take into account a counterbalance that could cause real panic: defending your principles can be very costly personally, to the point of losing a job for not giving them up.

Is there a leader you take as a reference?

Well, I remember a lot of my old teacher Andreu Collell. He was a truly exemplary man on every level. To this day, it still amazes me that, despite having been imprisoned during the Civil War, he was a person incapable of generating hatred. With him I learned about the art of living; to lead one’s own life.


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