Professor Gerard Seijts
Professor | Organizational Behaviour | Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario | Canada
The global financial crisis of 2008 was a powerful demonstration of the importance of character in leadership, or more accurately, the dreadful and detrimental impact when it is lacking in leaders. Regretfully, until that time, we tended to focus too much on what leaders do and we did not spend enough time on who leaders are – the character of leaders.
However, we are now over 12 years on from that crisis and are finding an almost ubiquitous focus on leader character sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has not only starkly displayed the character of leaders, but also exposed its critical role in their success or failure.
Gerard Seijts will highlight research on character as a critical element of leadership. The COVID-19 outbreak presented organizational leaders, as well as everyday citizens, with enormous challenges. Worldwide, individuals’ character was tested.
Gerard will discuss how character has been revealed – in both positive and negative ways – in the actions that leaders and citizens alike displayed during the fight to overcome this pandemic. He will help us generate an understanding and appreciation for the importance of leader character and candour in business.
For many, thinking and talking about our character is somewhat uncomfortable – but successful leaders take the time to reflect on who they are, not just what they do. Gerard’s belief is that being a leader is less about the position and more about the disposition to lead. Meaning, that the disposition to lead is a choice – it is what allows individuals to rise above the fray and bring the best of themselves to their daily activities: at home; in their community; and in the workplace.