Leadership, a Matter of Character
Alvarez de Mon Pan de Soraluce, Santiago
Publisher: Prentice Hall; Pearson Educación
Original document: Desde la adversidad. Liderazgo, cuestión de carácter
They say that greatness comes through hardship. In the face of difficulty, the human spirit is impelled to demonstrate its immense capacity for creativity and intelligence. In his book "Desde la adversidad. Liderazgo, cuestión de carácter" (Through Hardship. Leadership: A Matter of Character), IESE Professor Santiago Álvarez de Mon argues that crises can be an excellent teacher, masterly and demanding. one of his main points is that sooner or later everybody runs into difficulties and that you don´t have to be an exceptional person to know how to deal with them. To illustrate his point, Álvarez de Mon uses examples from the lives of 21 people who overcame exceptionally difficult circumstances, such as serious accidents, ill-health, natural disasters or political totalitarianism. Among other extreme situations, he cites the first Antarctic expedition of 1914 and the Andes air crash of 1972; situations of political upheaval, such as those faced by Vaclav Havel and Nelson Mandela; serious physical afflictions, such as those suffered by Lance Armstrong, Helen Keller, José Carreras and Christopher Reeve; or difficult business situations, such as that experienced by Intel chairman Andy Grove. The 21 personalities discussed in the book are experts in the art of living - that is why they are so well equipped to be leaders. The way in which they confronted - or are confronting - their personal trials teaches us five important lessons about leadership:
1) That leadership is a personal adventure, an inner phenomenon.
2) That it has more to do with action than words.
3) That it is a matter of courage: a leader does what has to be done without making excuses.
4) That leadership is a moral issue, rooted in universal and timeless values.
5) That a good leader assumes a commitment to educate others, to turn the institution that he or she governs into a wellspring of talent. Among other aspects, the author focuses on the process of human learning, the overcoming of the sterile dichotomy between success and failure, the philosophy of leadership, and time management. From his analysis it emerges that leadership is a matter of courage, determination, fortitude, perseverance, initiative and the humility to draw valuable lessons from one´s own mistakes.