Lead With Virtue: The Cardinals

Virtue: behavior showing high moral standards.synonyms: goodness, virtuousness, righteousness, morality, ethicalness, uprightness

How often do you consider virtue in your leadership role or organization? Not a lot? Let’s talk about how it can actually build up the core strength of your culture by intentionally giving it a home. I’ll be revisiting the various virtues and their application overtime but for now I’d like to give a broad overview for you to consider beyond your old college ethics class. If you’ve taken a personality test like the Meyers-Briggs or Enneagram, you may find these virtues helpful in shoring up your shortcomings.

Let’s start with the Cardinals or “hinge” virtues, four prime virtues that all other virtue hinges off of. Prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. These four have long history starting with Plato, working their way through time being refined by great thinkers such as Aristotle and Aquinas. Fascinating reads of course but these classics are just as relevant in the 21st century as they did in antiquity. Why? They speak to foundational character that is timeless.

Prudence: In other words, wisdom, taking knowledge and using it correctly. Are you making wise decisions as a leader? Are you giving permission to your staff to make wise decisions? Better yet, are you allowing and showing patience to your team so they can grow in wisdom, even if they fail. One of the greatest teachers is experience. Are you allowing yourself and/or your team to make mistakes that come with earned experience? If we don’t have that permission, albeit within control, then outside of the box thinking and creativity can be stifled. We lose depth and can stagnate.

Temperance: How are you temperate or reasonable in your work flow. If you’re an Enneagram 7 like me, you can chase ideas on a whim and get scattered pretty easily. Maybe you can get angry quickly as a 4 or 8. Working on your temperance strengthens your ability to control outbursts and time. Staying level and having self-control is important to leading stability.

Justice: Think about your team. Maybe they are staff, maybe volunteers. How are you treating them? Naturally, you’ll like some more than others but are you being equitable? Are you giving fair time and attention to each or are you punishing someone with unfair demands or even dialog? Maybe a hard working team member needs a justifiable raise. Maybe that failing or toxic member needs to be released? Communicating expectations and working on how you deliver justice helps build respect from your team.

Fortitude: Be brave. Leaders are faced with tough and sticky decisions or actions everyday. Creating vision, large investments, hiring/firing, accountability, etc. Indecision can slow down your progress and make organizations clunky. Bravery is action, even when you are afraid. Sometimes you need coaching or practice to move forward. If you’re a Enneagram 9, you might want to think this through.

Using the Cardinals is an easy way to check yourself as a leader and gives a little scaffolding to work from. Add these to your planner and ask yourself, how are you doing with them. You’ll find that by building off of this foundation of virtue, you’ll be leading a healthier team and more important a healthier you.


 

Adam Jarosz is the founder of Righteous Co. His vocation involves loving his wife Ani and two babies, Isabella and Wyatt. He also loves writing, hitting the weights, and building people up. Need advice on how to use your skills? Shoot him a message AdamJ@RighteousCo.com

3Tips for Go-Getters

The 3Tips Series continues with financial planner, firefighter, and fellow former Disney cast member, Greg Smith. Greg joined me over good Mexican food and cerveza for a conversation about what tips he would share to leaders getting up and at it. As a go-getter himself, Greg provides some excellent tips to ground yourself with as a leader. Consider applying these to your routine. Here is what he had to say…

  1. Be mindful with your time. “Success does not sleep. When you look at the successful person, the day starts with a solid morning routine. Wake up early, hit the gym, eat a hearty breakfast all before getting into the office. That starts each day on the right foot so you can get at it.” After sipping a Corona he continues, “Be intentional with your time and plan out the day. You always need to be on too. You’re always on even outside of the office because you don’t know who you are going to meet and influence. Opportunity could be everywhere.”
  2. You are never too old to learn. “If you are not moving forward, you are moving backwards. You need to make the necessary steps to grow everyday, be the best you can be; continuing education, counseling, podcasts, reading, etc. You are never too old to learn.”
  3. Always put others interests ahead of you. “Whether volunteering or working, God’s blessings keep coming. Good people put others interests ahead of their own. As a firefighter, we have a duty towards all of our brothers and sisters in the community. Whoever you serve, you have the duty to them. Remember, even as a leader, you still serve your team.” Stopping to chew on his burrito bowl and think, Greg looked around the busy restaurant. As if catching inspiration from the hustle he continued, “An example of this is from Luke where Jesus left the ninety-nine for the one. We can apply this in any role we find ourselves in. The most vulnerable can get lost and we should keep an eye for that individual and work to find them. We need empathy towards their situation. The fruit of this will show in your work. It’s habitual and that habit grows like a seed.”

To wrap up, we caught up over life, family, and jobs. Before we polished off our food and beer Greg had one final thought, “Sometimes you’ll slow down and be tempted to stop. When you have a bad day, keep going. When you have a good day, keep going. Not all bad days last, just keep going.”


Greg Smith is a financial consultant for AXA Advisors and a Williamsville, NY volunteer firefighter. You can catch Greg out doing what he does best, serving others. Interested in finding out how Greg can help your finances? You can reach him at his email here.

3Tips for Emerging Leaders

I love learning from people in action. It inspires me to be better when people are out there killing it, doing what they do best. I sat down with Director of Youth Ministry and entrepreneur, Lydia Zielinski, over a good cup of coffee to talk shop.

Lydia and I travelled to Poland a few years ago along with a contingent from Buffalo for World Youth Day. I really noticed her emerging leadership skills as she navigated her group through the rigors of pilgrimage. As a leader working both in a ministry and as an independent contractor expanding her business, Lydia offers plenty of drive and experience for any leader to learn from. I asked her what three tips she would pass on to other leaders if given the opportunity. Here is how she broke it down…

1. Communication. “Communicate well. Communication is key with people who share your vision. You need to be clear and concise with your team. By sharing your vision clearly and tapping what you need from your team, you can execute your larger mission.”

“I recently had an event where I really needed to lean into one of our partners for help. By building a healthy relationship leading up to this, I knew her skills well. From there we were able to communicate in a way that would utilize her strengths. When the time came, I knew exactly what I needed and how to approach her. I was able to be clear and to the point and we got the event done right.”

2. Delegation.“Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of you and your team is important to fill gaps. You have to assess and have a relationship with your team to know what they are capable of. Same for you too. By recognizing your own limits you can build a team you can lean on to cover your weaknesses.”

“I can’t do it all by myself. To reach our goals, I need to recognize others gifts. God has given you people around you to go beyond what you are capable of. This broadens the organization’s reach. People are capable and want to contribute. Use their gifts and talents accordingly. “

“As a leader and a businesswoman, I need to be confident in who I am. It can be intimidating. Be confident that you can tap others into your vision and then do so.”

3. Network.“I spent a lot of time traveling recently. For example, I was in Florida for a national conference that was focused on the challenges the Church faces today. It was a great opportunity to meet people from around the country. My advice is to not be afraid to connect with people as much as possible. Be available to people who are striving in their life. You never know who you’ll meet or how you can help that connection, or vice versa in the future.”

“Build up a network of pros that can feed off of each other. I have been reaching out to the outer circle of people I may know and filtering out the people who are into the same goals and visions. I’m not going to spend the time opening up to people who don’t share that vision professionally. I have to identify people who have similar thoughts, goals, and dreams build off of them. It can be counter productive otherwise.”

Special thank you to Lydia for sharing these tips. If you enjoyed this, feel free to stay tuned for more tips you can apply into your role. Keep up to date by signing up for “The Climb” at RighteousCo.com for the latest happenings, resources, and content.


Lydia is the Director of Youth Ministry at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Williamsville, NY. She is also working hard as an independent contractor with Juice Plus, delivering quality nutrition an food to the people. Lydia has a passion to write about authentic femininity and masculinity in her own blog here.

From Draggin’ to Dragon: Burnout

Burnout is a very real scenario for leaders and if you don’t manage and deal with it, it can make your life toxic. When you find yourself really draggin’, you need to ask yourself why so you can get back to being that fire breathing dragon you are.

You know the feeling of being unmotivated, unproductive, on edge, dried up, desolate, etc. etc. We’ve all been there. There is a difference between the “I’ve been up all night,” to the “My soul has seized up”. That’s burnout. It’s claimed many from their mission and team. Recognizing it early is important so it doesn’t get out of control. On a spectrum from complacent to fried, I tend to ride the edge of the burnout wave myself. I push hard in my labor and it often gets me into mental/emotional trouble. I’ve come to know my limits well and when I need to throttle back.

  1. Break the streak: When your engine starts to seize up you need to take a break. Be honest with yourself. Get outside the situation and give yourself some air. Pray and take some time to get clarity. Open up to someone you are close with about it. Take a little time off if needed. Remember what it was like to be at your best and see what’s holding you back now. A. Do you need rest? B. Can what is broken be fixed? C. Do you need a new direction?
  2. Lay out a plan: Be intentional on your next steps. Use your break and clarity to set baby steps in either A, B, or C. Set your big goal and test out each step on paper to see what it looks like. Seek another voice for advice, like your spouse, a peer in your industry, mentor, or coach. Which direction gets you moving? Ask yourself “why?” and “how?” along each step.
  3. Get back to action: You have what it takes and it takes effort. Get started. Follow your baby steps and build momentum. Keep moving and digging at it. If you stall, give yourself a push or ask someone you can count on to keep you accountable. Assess along the way but keep your goal in sight, pivot if needed. Burnout will tell you a million reasons why you can’t. Build your discipline by acting even when you don’t want to. Yes, you can. Inaction will cause you more heartache and keep you down.

A great book I can recommend as a follow up is “Off Balanced” by Matthew Kelly. I’ve been through it 4-5 times and helped me gain perspective in a larger context.

I know, it’s not as easy as 1. 2. 3., there is no magic trick. It’s gritty. But you need to deal with it, so let’s go!