Cover: Character: What Contemporary Leaders Can Teach Us about Building a More Just, Prosperous, and Sustainable Future by Gerard Seijts and Kimberley Young Milani, ECW Press

Character: What Contemporary Leaders Can Teach Us about Building a More Just, Prosperous, and Sustainable Future

Seijts, Gerard, Kimberley Young Milani

  • Character is something intrinsic to us all; it forms and reveals who we are. Unbeknownst to many, character is foundational to our judgment, behavior, and leadership. As we tackle the grand challenges of our time, strength of character guides us to make better decisions, creates greater well-being, and contributes to human flourishing. For those who lead — whether in the public, private, not for profit, or education sectors — a greater understanding of character will challenge your thinking, inspire new ideas, and elevate your personal and professional performance.

    Character: What Contemporary Leaders Can Teach Us about Building a More Just, Prosperous, and Sustainable Future provides an exceptional opportunity to become a better leader by applying the extraordinary yet down-to-earth insights from the authors’ accessible scholarship and interviews with truly distinguished leaders whose lessons on building stronger societies through character-based leadership are moving, powerful, and evergreen.


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  • Gerard Seijts is a Professor of Organizational Behaviour and holds the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute Chair in Leadership at the Ivey Business School, Canada. He received his PhD from the University of Toronto. He lives in London, Ontario.

    Kimberley Young Milani is the Director of Ivey’s Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership and the former director of the Institute for Women in Leadership at Brescia University College, Western University. Kimberley is a graduate of the University of Toronto and University of Oxford. She lives in London, Ontario.

  • Published: April 2024

    ISBN: 9781770417304

    Dimensions: 6 x 9 in.

    Pages: 336

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“As we walk through the world, we can start to feel a collective sense that something isn’t right — or worse: something is very wrong. In such moments, we can either resort to hopelessness, cynicism, and desperate self-preservation, or we can answer the call to courageously step into our fullest potential as human beings. Gerard Seijts and Kimberley Young Milani’s Character is the road map (and inspirational rocket fuel) for that journey. Its cutting-edge Leader Character Framework is built for the trenches, for the real-world challenges we face, for our everyday decision-making. Through the deeply inspirational conversations, we’re invited to consider a transformational possibility: I could do that too. Can you imagine a world in which every individual was acting with character as their compass? That’s the path to the future we want; that’s the path we need to be on.” — Peter Katz, JUNO–and Canadian Screen Award–nominated singer-songwriter, keynote speaker, and facilitator

“Gerard Seijts and Kimberley Young Milani have written an insightful and incisive book which deserves to be read by leaders in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. Their thought-provoking argument that competence and commitment mean nothing without character, and that character can be developed through concerted effort like other leadership skills, is crucially important at a time when we need great leaders to solve boundary-crossing problems.” — Goldy Hyder, president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of Canada

“Gerard Seijts and Kimberley Young Milani have delivered a masterclass on the importance of character in shaping leadership decisions. Their analysis, based on years of impressive research, casts a rare beam of light on the most consequential factor of our essence as human beings. The light shines brightly through the book’s ingenious collection of interviews of personalities from around the world who offer inspiring examples of the power of character. Character deserves a special place in the canon of leadership scholarship.”— Thomas d’Aquino, founding CEO, Business Council of Canada, and author of Private Power Public Purpose: Adventures in Business, Politics, and the Arts

“This book uniquely challenges you to examine and develop the core of your character through the lived experiences of leaders and their personal calls to action. Inspired by each page, I began to reflect and embrace this book’s resounding message: to invest in developing who you are as a person and as a leader — not just your skills or talents; to believe that you have a unique contribution to make for the betterment for your organization, community, or society; and to muster the courage to take action with intent.” — Cheryl Pounder, two-time Olympic gold medalist in women’s ice hockey, TSN analyst and broadcaster

“Gerard Seijts and Kimberley Young Milani give us leader character in a way that is grounded and practical, while also building on responsible research. They choose great leaders to bring their ideas to life. We all should be doing more of what they are trying to help us do: to develop, support, and be leaders and citizens committed to tackling the boundary-crossing grand challenges of our time.” — Ryan Quinn, chair and associate professor of Management and Entrepreneurship and academic director of the Center for Positive Leadership, College of Business, University of Louisville

“We’ve never had more tools available to improve engagement, results, and organizational productivity. Yet one of the most determining factors for success — leadership character — has been one of the most elusive. Artificial intelligence and other innovations may push the boundaries of what’s possible, but they can’t compete with this core tenet of leadership and the ‘echo effect’ it has on teams and organizational success. Gerard Seijts and Kimberley Young Milani show why character is the leadership skill to be cultivated. The world needs more of it.” — Sevaun Palvetzian, president and CEO, UNICEF Canada

“Character lies at the very heart of leadership and its absence has never mattered more than it does today, in our uncertain, high-stakes world. This magnificent book describes what character means and how to develop more of it. Its beautifully written case studies bring the author’s ideas to life. Better still, the book is grounded in research and full of actionable advice related to recognizing and developing the character that is so desperately needed in leadership roles across sectors. If you want to be a better leader, this book should be at the top of your reading list.” — Amy C. Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership, Harvard Business School, and author of Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well

“A remarkable book that will grip you from start to finish. The demonstrable strength of character in action will challenge your thinking and exemplify strong leaders who stand up for injustice and work towards peace, hope, and reconciliation.” — Kevin McArevey, principal of Holy Cross Boys’ Primary School featured in the award-winning documentary Young Plato

“The importance of leadership character is well known but few studies really add much value beyond the intuitive. This book provides a deep and innovative analysis of leadership character along with a method to assess and develop it. A must read for any ambitious, responsible leader.” — Andrew Burke, chair of Business Studies at Trinity College Dublin