Monday 18 February 2019

From Temperament to Character - Alexandre Havard - On Becoming A Virtuous Leader

From Temperament to Character:
On Becoming A Virtuous Leader
Alexandre Havard

Scepter Publishers
eISBN 9781594173370

Alexandre Havard is the founder of the Virtuous Leadership System, prior to the publication of this volume he has written two other books on leadership. The book Virtuous Leadership is considered by many one of the best books on the topic. And Created for Greatness, focuses on self leadership. The author came highly recommended to me, and before even finishing this book, I picked up another to have it on hand once I finished this book. This book is written geared at business leaders, but the lessons can be applied by those of who want to lead ourselves, lead our families, and lead in our parishes and communities. The main focus of the book is that Virtuous Leadership can only truly succeed with a basic understanding of temperament and character, which, together constitute our personality. Part of the description of the book states:

“The Virtuous Leadership approach to temperament affirms the legitimate diversity of our physiological and psychological makeup, and proposes that temperament, rightly understood, undergirds the efforts of all persons to flourish and achieve excellence.”

And the rest of the book fleshes out what that looks like for us. The chapters in this volume are:

Foreword by Cameron Thompson, PhD
1. Temperament and Character
2. The Virtues of Character
3. The Cholerics: Their Personal Challenges
4. The Melancholics: Their Personal Challenges
5. The Sanguines: Their Personal Challenges
6. The Phlegmatics: Their Personal Challenges
7. Develop the Virtue You Are Challenged By
8. Discover Your Mission
9. The Foundation and Essence of Leadership
10. Self-Knowledge
11. An Active Heart
12. Why Serve?
13. The Upward Spiral of Growth
14. Magnanimity and Humility Go Hand in Hand
15. Virtue Ethics
16. Virtuous Leadership and Management
17. Virtuous Leadership and Education
18. Virtuous Leadership and Success

Once I started reading this book it was hard to put down. The further in the more work I realized that I need. And the more effort I need to put in. This is a book that will help us close the gap between who we want to be and who we currently are. It will help us become better at being. My first time through I highlighted over 50 passages in this book. Here is a sampling of those passages that hit me:

“On the foundation of temperament, we build character. Character is made up of virtues. The most important virtues are prudence, courage, self-mastery, justice, magnanimity, and humility. Virtues are moral habits, acquired through training. We are not born with character; it is something we build.”

“A leader is a mature person, but maturity (or integrity) is not his essential characteristic. Striving for greatness and devotion to service—these are his specific traits.”

“IN ORDER TO IMPROVE, we need to strengthen our heart (through humility and magnanimity), our intellect (through prudence), and our will (through courage, self-mastery and justice). Reason, will, and the heart blend seamlessly in the human person. We cannot separate them from each other without doing enormous damage to all three. Rationalists elevate the mind above all things, voluntarists the will, and sentimentalists the heart. Each approach corrupts them all.”

“If the virtues of the will and the heart cannot develop in the absence of prudence, likewise prudence cannot develop in the absence of the virtues of the will and the heart. Why? Because the intellect (our prudence) interprets reality through the lens forged by the will and the heart. The proud judge as true whatever flatters their pride; the intemperate, whatever helps them acquire power, money, or pleasure; the pusillanimous, whatever justifies their small-heartedness.”

“MAGNANIMITY AND HUMILITY ARE inseparable. Magnanimity without humility is pride, and humility without magnanimity is pusillanimity. One needs a pure heart, a strong will, and a bright intellect not to break the intimate link that unites these two virtues. Magnanimity and humility go hand in hand. An important aspect of humility is to acknowledge our dignity, talents, and greatness. And when we speak of magnanimity, we must never forget to mention that our dignity, talents, and greatness are gifts from God.”

“THERE ARE TWO KINDS OF ETHICS: rules-based ethics and virtue ethics. In the first system, an action is correct if it conforms to the rule, incorrect if it does not. In the second system, good is that which brings us closer to human excellence, bad that which leads us away from it.”

“Virtue gives us many things: spiritual freedom, unity of life, wisdom, creativity, and cultural maturity. Virtue is the only way to achieve self-realization.”

“Virtues, by contrast, help you behave virtuously always and everywhere: at work, with your family, among friends, during free time, and even when you are alone. Virtue unifies your personality and daily activities, both public and private, making the living of a double life impossible.”

“WE SEEK VIRTUE FIRST AND FOREMOST in order to achieve human excellence, and secondarily to become effective as human beings. Virtue means first excellence in being (aretē, in Greek) and secondarily effectiveness in action (virtus, in Latin).”

“Prudence, courage, self-mastery and justice are the foundation of leadership, whereas magnanimity and humility constitute the essence of leadership.”

I hope those few quotes will give you some insight into how great this book is. And that they will inspire you to pick it up and give it a read.

This book is one of those pivotal books in a reader’s life. It is one of the best leadership or personal development books I have read. It is a book that I would add to my list of ‘Life Changing Books’. And one I know I will return to and reread again and again. Always looking to work on improvement, striving not for perfection but for perfect effort. It is an incredible read and I challenge you to read it and see if it can help transform your life and help you lead by that example.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Alexandre Havard:
Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence
Created for Greatness: The Power of Magnanimity
From Temperament to Character: On Becoming A Virtuous Leader
My Russian Way: a spiritual autobiography

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