Richard Reeves: Five Traits of Effective Leaders
In front of a busy Wellcome Collection auditorium for London Business Forum, philosopher, writer and policy-maker, Richard Reeves delivered a presentation which set out to explore the complex parallels between leadership and the concept of character.
Reeves subscribes to the belief that a great leader is shaped by their strength of character, and draws inspiration from 19th century liberal philosopher, John Stuart Mill. Using his famous quote, “It really is of importance, not only what men do, but also what manner of men they are that do it,” to examine some of the core values surrounding wellbeing.
Throughout his presentation, Reeves, a former Director of Strategy to Nick Clegg, used old-world ideals to highlight the core values associated with strength of character. Old values which are still very relevant today when discussing the qualities expected of modern leaders.
With that in mind, Reeves broke down the concept of a good leadership character into its four fundamental elements: Patience, Optimism, Resilience, Courage and Humility.
Starting with patience, Reeves referenced the Marshmallow Test to highlight delayed gratification. Walter Mischel’s famous experiment examined the relationship between delayed gratification (the ability to resist the temptation to eat a marshmallow right away with the promise of more if you succeed) and overall life success.
Reeves then went on to explore the other character traits he believes are critical to good leadership. This fascinating examination into the role of character on leadership was a bold reminder that being a good leader in business can be a complex task. More than simply being charismatic individual or a dazzling public speaker, it involves careful consideration and most of all, strength of character.