The Character Compass: A Book Review by Bob Morris

The Character Compass: Transforming Leadership for the 21st Century
Mary Crossan, Gerard Seijts, and Bill Furlong
Routledge/An Imprint of Taylor & Ross Group (October 2023)

“Those with character have a highly principled, perfectly disciplined and educated will.” Vince Lombardi

According to Mary Crossan, Gerard Seijts, and Bill Furlong, [begin italics] character is foundational to effective decision-making and functioning.” [end italics] More specifically, “It shapes a number of things,  including what we notice in the context in which we operate; how we manage the world around us; what we reinforce through our rewards and punishments; who we engage in conversation and how we con∂uc t those conversations; what we value; how we interpret feedback; what we choose to act on; how we deal with conflict, disappointment, and setbacks; the goals we set for ourselves; how we communicate; and so forth.”

Whatever their size and nature may be, all organizations need character leaders — and on-going character leadership development — that drive an effective response to challenges at a time when the business world is more volatile, more uncertain, more complex, and more ambiguous than at any prior time that I can recall.

These are among the passages of greatest interest and vaue to me, also shared to suggest the nature and scope of Crossan, Seijts, and Furlong’s coverage:

o The strategic roadmap (Pages 5-6)
o Turning an entire nation around (13-16)
o Three key questions (16-25)
o The roots of Leader Character (32-34)
o The framework [for leader character] 34-41

o “What’s your Achilles’ heel?” (50-55)
o Figure 3.2: “The Outcomes That May Occur When the 11 Character Dimensions Are — Alternatively — Weak, Unsupported, and Balanced  (58-59)
o The Leader Character Insight Assessment (LCIA) 62-65
o Where does character come from? (72-75)
o Intention: why you’re activating character (80-83)

o A parting look at core beliefs (91-92)
o “The power of micro-moments” (95-98)
o Embracing intentionality (98-99)
o Redemption through micro-moments (101-105)
o Initiating change at CRA [Canada Revenue Agency] 111-114

o Lessons for character champions (125-130)
o A different approach to culture building (135-139)
o EDI [Equity, Diversity, Inclusion]: a focused intervention (153-157)
o Risk and risk management (165-167)
o How boards do and don’t work, and, Character is foundational (181-183 and 193-194)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine could possibly do full justice to the quality of the information, insights, and counsel that Mary Crossan, Gerard Seijts, and Bill Furlong provide in abundance. It is also true that the value of this material will ultimately be determined by those who absorb, digest, and then apply whatever is most relevant to their organization.

* * *

Here are two other suggestions to keep in mind while reading The Character Compass: Highlight key passages, and, record your comments, questions, action steps (preferably with deadlines), page references, and lessons you have learned as well as your responses to key points posed within the narrative. Pay special attention to the end-of-chapter insights and  calls-to-action.

These two simple tactics — highlighting and documenting — will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent reviews of key material later.


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