“Developing Leadership Character in Business Programs”

Leadership Scholarly Article Review

In the article ‘Developing Leadership Character in Business Programs’, the authors accentuate the necessity of character development. They contrast this approach to existing practices that focus on teaching functional content over character, and discuss such pressing issues as the crisis of confidence in leadership and the role of business schools in developing leaders. Their primary focus lies on teaching leadership skills and competencies, and their major suggestion is integration of a focus on character development into existing business programs, both in terms of curriculum development and classroom techniques.

The authors use the classification and description of virtues and character strengths by Peterson and Seligman (2004) as a starting point for their own approach. Hence, they focus on the following six major virtues: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence (Crossan, Mazutis, Seijts, & Gandz, 2013). They also point out the following: “an individual’s character consists of both habitual qualities or character strengths and a second, more motivational component” (Crossan, Mazutis, Seijts, & Gandz, 2013, p. 287). Human personality is explicated in terms of character traits, which consist of habitual qualities, strengths, weaknesses and motivational values. In my opinion, it is very important to gain an extensive understanding of one’s personality in order to come up with a comprehensive scheme of how to develop and promote its specific components. Crossan, Mazutis, Seijts and Gandz highlight that personality traits “are endogenous tendencies that give rise to distinct patterns of thought, feelings, and actions” (2013, p. 287).

In order to examine the peculiarities of character to the full extent, the authors integrate research across the fields of psychology and philosophy. I believe such thorough approach greatly adds to the significance and effectiveness of the article. The authors introduce the so-called “virtue-based orientation (VBO) model that places character development at the core of ethical decision making (EDM) in business” (Crossan, Mazutis, Seijts, & Gandz, 2013, p. 287). They accentuate the important role of continuous learning in character development; they suggest that “individuals have a capacity to deepen character strengths around the virtuous mean as they avoid vices of deficiency or excess” (Crossan, Mazutis, Seijts, & Gandz, 2013, p. 288).



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The authors present arguments in favor of the question as to whether or not a character can be taught, as well as opposing opinions. Their belief is that leadership character can be influenced in a business school context. Their view on leadership is as follows: leadership “is not focused on power or position, but rather on the capacity of individuals to bring the best of themselves to support and enable others, ensure the organizations they work with achieve at the highest level, and in doing so, contribute to society” (Crossan, Mazutis, Seijts, & Gandz, 2013, p. 291).

The authors also elaborate on how essential leadership processes may be mastered at the levels of self, others and the organization. Hence, the teaching of character is considered from various perspectives and on various levels. The authors believe that the majority of business schools choose to focus on a single domain – developing leadership competencies, whereas they argue that character and commitment to do the challenging and rewarding work of leadership are not less important. They point out that character development can be taught simultaneously with any subject. Hence, I come to a conclusion that it can be integrated into the teaching methodology across various disciplines, figuring as an additional learning objective.

Another valid argument is the importance of the leader’s self-awareness and reflection capabilities. The authors suggest the following techniques to develop leadership character traits: skills training, experiential methods, reflection exercises and mentoring. They also take into consideration application of these techniques with various audiences and point out that separate individuals engage in the learning process in different ways. One more interesting point made concerns the leadership traits in those who teach this discipline and need to develop a positive relationship with others. Self-reflection is just as important for leadership educators as it is for their students.

The article is enriched by opinions of students, teachers, researcher and practitioners in the field of developing leadership skills. I believe, this fact adds to its significance. The authors closely examine the implementation and application of various teaching and learning methodologies and techniques. Finally, they stress that ‘it takes a village’ to teach leadership skills and promote character development in the most effective manner since the communal approach here is highly significant. The article is highly informative and insightful; I believe that its significant theoretical and practical value is apparent.

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