In Leadership, Character Comes First #succession

Richard Shrapnel's Orienteering Succession blog

The resilience you can bring to your role as a leader will be founded in character, your individual character as a person. To grow your core strength as a leader, build your character and understand the traits which reflect worthy leadership and those you hope you will never exhibit.


Active Knowledge Question:

What would you list as the traits you would like to develop as a leader to underpin the success of your leadership?


Leaders are described in many different ways – visionary, servant, autocratic, coaching, commanding, transformative, etc. – which reflect, in most cases, how they interact with the business and its people. And it is perceived that the type of leader that is required for a business, will turn on the growth stage of that business and where it needs to move to next. 

When you step into your next leadership role, be careful in seeking to mould your leadership around one of these styles. They are external and try to reflect your actions and approaches to communication. They may well not be authentic to who you are as a person, but importantly they are unlikely to provide the right mental image of how you need to act as a leader.

As a leader, you always look to your character as a person as it is from this core that all that you do and how you act will flow. 

Remember your effectiveness as a leader will be determined by your ability to muster the combined strength and talent of everyone working within and with your business. This combined strength underpins and determines the performance and success of the business. And it grows out of the trust and engagement you can seed and nurture throughout the business. 

Here is some wisdom from China around the 11th century BC on how to build empires that I have adapted to our business world:

With regard to the theme of virtue, it is the CEO and their C-suite leaders that are responsible for setting the example for all their people. Benevolence, righteousness, loyalty, creditability, sincerity, courage, and wisdom are the virtues they must nurture and display. 

Furthermore, the CEO is not only a source of personal example, but they are required to gain an intimate understanding of the needs of their people. Personal emotions are not permitted to interfere with the impartial government, and excessive pleasures by the CEO or their C-suite leaders to the detriment of the people are unforgivable. 

Righteousness must always override personal desires and emotions, and the CEO must actively share the hardships and pleasures of their people and clearly be seen to be doing so. 

It is only through such a course that a CEO can bind their people to their business. (1)


This image of leadership looks to the character of the person and how that character will seed their interactions with their people and build the right relationships.

Worthy leadership rests in the relationships that you are able to build as a leader and from which all actions, and the success of a business, will flow. Worthy leadership is founded in character.

Next week we will look at the specific character traits of a worthy leader.


(1) Adapted from readings of Sawyer, R.D. (1993). ‘The Seven Military Classics of Ancient China’. Colorado, Westview Press Inc.

An entirely new level of performance.

Want to become a part of the Entrepreneurs+ Community and learn how to make your business competitively fitJoin now.


All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel