Taking a closer look at character

by: Issues: May / June 2013. Tags: Leadership. Categories: From the Editor and Leadership.

In this issue of the Ivey Business Journal, professors, researchers and consultants unearth new techniques to tap into an organization’s greatest asset; its people. We often focus on the scarcity of resources such as raw materials for products, or capital to fund new ventures, and make decisions based on these. But what about the scarcity of great leadership? Leaders need to be developed; they need to make mistakes and continue learning. Many crises and struggles in the contemporary business landscape rise out of scandals, omissions, and short-sighted business decisions. While educators teach ethics and lawmakers try to enforce them, the final judgment call depends not only on education and experience, but on a leader’s character.

As researchers at Ivey have identified, character weaknesses such as overconfidence, inattention, and a lack of integrity and accountability, among other factors, have been observed in the leaders of organizations that suffer. Rather than focusing on these negatives, there is an increasing need to examine the positive characteristics that comprise a good leader. Gandz, Crossan, Seijts, and Reno, find eleven key traits that contribute to a leader with strong character, and advise ways to identify these characteristics as well as how to exercise them within your organization.

Mathew Manimala and Kishinchand Poornima Wasdani from the Indian Institute of Management communicate how a distributed management style at Google has created a work environment that inspires new ideas and invokes greater achievement.  They extract back-to-basics leadership skills guided by the example set by Google, encouraging readers to empower employees and let creativity blossom within their organizations.

Robert J. Thomas et al. explore “leadership ensembles,” and patterns of decision-making which, when realized among a team, can balance each other out and unlock an integrated decision process. These authors preach the importance of collaborative decision-making in making more effective choices in the long run.

We also revisit the ever-elusive topic of big data. It was not a year ago that we discussed big data as the up-and-coming way to gain competitive advantage. Now the term seems stale, and shrouded in misunderstanding. Professor Peter Bell asks readers what we have learned, if anything, about this exhausted buzzword. His article works to breakout what the fuss is really about, and how we can understand data rather than continue to toss the term around, often mistaking it for what it is not.

Some less considerate business decisions have, in many cases, lead to economic, environmental, and human rights catastrophes. Effective and adaptable leadership lies at the core of resolutions to today’s challenges. While a sustainable future may rely on a shift in the way we do business, before that can happen, we must take a closer look at the character of tomorrow’s business leaders.

 

Maura Paré
Executive Editor, Ivey Business Journal