Two Powerful Leadership Characteristics: Impartiality and Humility

Not only are people of character honest, congruent, and personally accountable, they also seek to remain impartial. To be impartial is not the same as to be neutral. People of ethical character are not Switzerland. They see things clearly and attempt to judge things equitably, that is, without the intrusion of personal biases and self interest. The picture of justice personified is a woman blindfolded holding the scales. She is blind to biases and weighs the scales of objective truth.

Impartiality is a part of our ethical character that keeps us from the less-than-ethical "isms" that often destroyed the moral fabric of the team. Three of the big ones are individualism, favoritism, and nepotism. Impartiality resist the urge to simply feather one's own nest, to be ruled by self-serving bias and self-interest. People of higher ethical standards pursue ever-increasing levels of objectivity and freedom from bias as they seek to make judgments that are in The best interest, not simply of themselves, but of the team as a whole.

This quality is related to both honesty, being truthful with oneself and others about oneself, and the emotional intelligence trait of self-awareness.

This is a valuable place to lead from. Though we strive for greater integrity, we never fully arrive. the leader at all levels of the organization is fully aware of this reality. He or she builds integrity and a far different way than those who wear the mask of pretended authenticity.

The vulnerable person of influence sees the remaining gaps between aspirational values and practiced values. This is a key, not only two remaining humble, but to effectiveness in leaving and serving others. Quinn commented, "The heart of effectiveness … is building integrity through the constant observation of one's lack of integrity." Here is the irony, being mindful of the gap is not a disqualification from leadership; it is a character based prerequisite. Humble leaders are servant leaders who do not abuse the power given to them for the good of others. As Abraham Lincoln is attributed to have said, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

Excerpted from Pushing Back Entropy: Moving Teams from Conflict to Health by Andy Johnson