This article builds on our prior work on leader character. A
representative publication includes M. Crossan, G. Seijts,
and J. Gandz, Developing Leadership Character (New York,
NY: Routledge Publishing, 2016). That research is influenced
by the work of Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman,
Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). M. Crossan,
A. Byrne, G. Seijts, M. Reno, L. Monzani, and J. Gandz
designed an engaged scholarship,three-phase approach with
over 2,000 leaders from the public and private sectors, which
produced the framework of leader character that forms the
underpinnings for character-based leadership. The article,
“Toward a Framework of Leader Character in Organizations,” is published in the Journal of Management Studies
54, no. 7 (2017): 986—1018.
Several studies have shown the positive effects of character on individual and organizational performance. Two
examples include K. S. Cameron, D. Bright, and A. Caza,
“Exploring the Relationships Between Organizational Virtuousness and Performance,” American Behavioral Scientist 47
(2004): 766—790; and J. J. Sosik, W. A. Gentry and J. U.
Chun, “The Value of Virtue in the Upper Echelons: A MultiSource Examination of Executive Character Strengths and
Performance,” Leadership Quarterly 23 (2012): 367—382.
The results that Fred Kiel obtained with CEOs are reported in
Return on Character (Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review
Press, 2015).
We have partnered with Sigma Assessment Systems to
develop a reliable and valid instrument (self-assessment and
360 assessment) to measure leader character, called the
Leader Character Insight Assessment (LCIA). B. Furlong, M.
Crossan, J. Gandz, and L. Crossan, in their article
“Character’s Essential Role in Addressing Misconduct in
Financial Institutions,” Business Law International 18,
no.3 (2017), articulate the critical role of character as it
affects judgment and decision-making and encourage a pivot
from viewing misconduct as arising from unethical people
doing bad things, to failure of judgment and decision-making
arising from deficiencies in character.
There are several articles that focus on leader character
development including S. Hannah and B. Avolio, “The Locus
of Leader Character,” Leadership Quarterly 22 (2011): 979—
983; S. Hannah and P. Jennings, “Leader Ethos and Big-C
Character,” Organizational Dynamics 42 (2013): 8—16; M.
Crossan, D. Mazutis, G. Seijts, and J. Gandz, “Developing
Leadership Character in Business Programs,” Academy of
Management Learning & Education 12 (2013): 285—305;
and E. Sadler-Smith, “Before Virtue: Biology, Brain, Behavior, and the “Moral Sense,” Business Ethics Quarterly 22
(2012): 351—376. These articles all emphasize that character can be developed and that the development of character
is a life-long journey.
Embedding leader character in HR practices was the focus
of an article by G. Seijts, M. Crossan, and E. Carleton,
“Embedding Leader Character in HR Practices to Achieve
Sustained Excellence,” Organizational Dynamics 46 (2017):
30—39. They describe the importance of leader character to
HR practices and the role of biodata, reference checks, and
interviews associated with selection. They point out that the
usefulness of biodata is enhanced when applicants are asked
to provide supporting information to justify their answers.
This finding was reported in J. Levashina, F. P. Morgeson, and
M. A. Campion, “Tell Me Some More: Exploring How Verbal
Ability and Item Verifiability Influence Responses to Biodata
Questions in a High-Stakes Selection Context,” Personnel
Psychology 65 (2012) 359—383. They also point to the importance of structured reference checking –— the consistent use
of measures across applicants and referees –— as having
higher criterion-related validity compared to non- structured approaches. They offer two relevant publications:
R. D. Zimmerman, M. D. C. Triana, and M. R. Barrick,
“Predictive Criterion-Related Validity of Observer Ratings
of Personality and Job-Related Competencies Using Multiple
Raters and Multiple Performance Criteria,” Human Performance 23 (2010): 361—378; and P. J. Taylor, K. Pajo, G. W.
Cheung, and P. Stringfield, “Dimensionality and Validity of a
Structured Telephone Reference Check Procedure,” Personnel Psychology 57 (2004): 745—772.

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    Dimension Definition
    Judgment Makes sound decisions in a timely manner based on relevant information and critical analysis of facts.
    Appreciates the broader context when reaching decisions. Shows flexibility when confronted with new
    information or situations. Has an implicit sense of the best way to proceed. Can see into the heart of
    challenging issues. Can reason effectively in uncertain or ambiguous situations.
    Courage Does the rightthing even though it may be unpopular, actively discouraged, orresultin a negative outcome
    for oneself. Shows an unrelenting determination, confidence, and perseverance in confronting difficult
    situations. Rebounds quickly from setbacks.
    Drive Strives for excellence, has a strong desire to succeed, tackles problems with a sense of urgency,
    approaches challenges with energy and passion.
    Collaboration Values and actively supports development and maintenance of positive relationships among people.
    Encourages open dialogue and does not react defensively when challenged. Is able to connect with others
    at a fundamental level, in a way thatfosters the productive sharing of ideas. Recognizes that what happens
    to someone, somewhere, can affect all.
    Integrity Holds oneself to a high moral standard and behaves consistently with ethical standards, even in difficult
    situations. Is seen by others as behaving in a way that is consistent with their personal values and beliefs.
    Behaves consistently with organizational policies and practices.
    Temperance Conducts oneself in a calm, composed manner. Maintains the ability to think clearly and respond
    reasonably in tense situations. Completes work and solves problems in a thoughtful, careful manner.
    Resists excesses and stays grounded.
    Accountability Willingly accepts responsibility for decisions and actions. Is willing to step up and take ownership of
    challenging issues. Reliably delivers on expectations. Can be counted on in tough situations.
    Justice Strives to ensure that individuals are treated fairly and that consequences (positive or negative) are
    commensurate with contributions. Remains objective and keeps personal biases to a minimum when
    making decisions. Provides others with the opportunity to voice their opinions on processes and
    procedures. Provides timely, specific, and candid explanations for decisions. Seeks to redress wrongdoings
    inside and outside the organization.
    Humility Allows accomplishments to speak for themselves, acknowledges limitations, understands the importance
    of thoughtful examination of one’s own opinions and ideas and embraces opportunities for personal growth
    and development. Does not consider oneself to be more important or special than others, is respectful of
    others, and understands and appreciates others’ strengths and contributions.
    Humanity Demonstrates genuine concern and care for others, and can appreciate and identify with others’ values,
    feelings, and beliefs. Has a capacity to forgive and not hold grudges. Understands that people are fallible
    and offers opportunities for individuals to learn from their mistakes.
    Transcendence Draws inspiration from excellence or appreciation of beauty in such areas as sports, music, arts, and
    design. Sees possibility where others cannot. Has a very expansive view of things both in terms of taking
    into account the long term and broad factors. Demonstrates a sense of purpose in life.
    Elevating leader character alongside competence in selection 11
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    12 M. Crossan et al.
    Mary Crossan is a Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Strategic Leadership at the Ivey Business
    School at Western University in London, Ontario. Her areas of research include leader character, organizational
    learning for strategic renewal, and improvisation. She has authored several books and over 100 articles and cases.
    (Ivey Business School, Western University, 1255 Western Road, London, Ontario, N6G 0N1, Canada. Tel.: +1 519
    661 3217; fax: +1 519 661 3485; e-mail:
    Sonia Côté has built a proven track record of modernizing human resources management over the last 20+ years
    in various government departments of the Federal Public Service of Canada. Whether it is contributing to a
    change agenda, providing services to clients, or making employees see their own potential, she is present,
    attentive, and ready to inspire. Over the course of her career, she has developed a keen interest in talent
    management, leadership development, learning, and recruitment. She also teaches in the fields of organizational
    development and change management. She is currently the Director General responsible for leadership and
    learning within the Human Resources Branch.
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    Elevating leader character alongside competence in selection 13
    Stephen Virginjoined the Canada Revenue Agency in July 2018 as the new Director for Character Leadership. He
    is a former senior naval officer in the Canadian Armed Forces; he joined the Public Service in 2015. During his
    military career, he was fortunate to have a variety of leadership experiences including submarine captain, frigate
    command, and a variety of strategic leadership appointments in National Headquarters in plans, policy, and
    strategic resource management. His final appointment in the Forces was as the Deputy Commander of Canada’s
    Special Forces Command.

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