Published in The Journal of Character & Leadership Development, this research article explores three main questions: What is character? What does character contribute to leadership? And how is character cultivated in leaders?
Dynamics of connection, complexity, and precarity make leadership in the 21st century a challenging task. This article considers the turn to values-based and person-centred leadership that has resulted and the correlated movement in leadership development, where there is a focus not only on technical but relational competencies, allied to leader behaviours and mindsets. Deficits when it comes to the integration and depth of competency-based approaches highlight the importance of character. The article makes a case for character development in leadership education, drawing on the work of the Oxford Character Project at the University of Oxford to explore what character is, what character contributes when it comes to leadership, and how character might be cultivated in a new generation of wise thinkers and good leaders.