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.