24 Character Strengths: Leadership

We are all unique and we all have strengths which allow us to contribute to the world. In the early 2000’s, Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Christopher Peterson developed the VIA Character Strengths. Their research determined that there are 24 common character strengths that each of us possess to one degree or another, giving us a common language to use, but still recognizing that each of us is unique.


Each of these Character Strengths fall under one of six broad categories called Virtues. These Virtues and Character Strengths have proven to be universal across cultures and nations. Over the next few weeks, we will explore each of the 24 strengths that we all share, yet make you uniquely you!


Next we will look at the Virtue of Justice, which brings together those strengths that make life fair. This can manifest in equity, equality or need and strives for living and working together in harmony.



The Character Strength of Leadership has two dimensions based on the research. This first can be thought of as a practice where one defines, identifies or establishes a direction. The second is more of a personal quality focused on the motivation and capacity to take on leadership roles. People with this signature strength are part of the groups that they lead and don't see themselves as separate or apart in any way. They see their mission as finding ways to encourage a group to accomplish something, organizing tasks and ensuring that accomplishments happen. At their essence, they are driven to positively influence others.


The absence of Leadership is compliance or just going along with the rules set by others. Its opposite is sabotage and intentionally looking to obstruct progress or undermine others. In excess it manifests as tyrannical behavior often designed to be oppressive and cruel. Understanding these opposites, absences and excesses can help us identify Leadership in ourselves and in others.

Leadership is one of the most misunderstood strengths. It isn't focused on control over anyone or 'being the boss'. The power of this strength comes from a sincere desire to motivate people to be their best while always fostering genuine trust and commitment. Leadership isn't a title, but a desire to contribute to a group or team's progress. If you are in a position of leadership today or desire to be, look for you underlying motivations to see if this strength is your foundation. Look at your life and find opportunities to lead while always recognizing that there are times to follow.



If you would like to learn more about Leadership and your individual strengths, you can visit the website below and complete the free VIA Character Strengths Questionnaire.


https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/