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The Character Edge

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Member Reviews

Thoughtful, insightful book on becoming a better leader and person.

I liked the personality strengths test (from Authentic Happiness.com)--it gave me insight into my own core strengths (and weaknesses). There are 24 moral virtues grouped into 6 main groups:

1) wisdom and knowledge (creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective)
2) courage (bravery, persistence, integrity, zest)
3) justice (teamwork, fairness, leadership)
4) humanity (capacity to love, kindness, social intelligence)
5) temperance (forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-regulation)
6) transcendence (appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope/optimism, humor, spirituality)

Author Caslen talks more about each group in detail, using examples from his extensive military experience to illustrate leadership lessons.

The second half of the book is very business organization-heavy. Lots of advice on how to manage people and avoid lapses in judgment. It's interesting info but not really applicable to my life. I think business leaders could get a lot from it, though. And the rest of the book was still informative and helpful to me overall.
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Great book, shows a plethora of insights and life stories from a great man, would highly recommend, Can't wait for more books from this author.
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Excellent resource for those currently in leadership and those seeking a leadership role. Very simply stated, it could be easily used in training for any employer to foster a work culture in which people 'feel good to go to work' and they feel valued. It includes resources for self assessment that would be beneficial in personal growth in dealing with people in any capacity. I particularly like the concepts of leading with head or heart and steering leaders to remember that their employees,( peers,associates or whatever their organization calls worker bees) are real people and respecting the individual. To truly listen to others, and that it is never ''my way or the highway'' and respect other ideas than your own,have understanding and compassion  of the person's life issues outside of the workplace. Many examples and ethical situations are provided from both the military and private sectors viewpoints. If these concepts are followed,and if the person has these characteristics, or has the capacity to develop them,many could find more satisfaction in their chosen field of employment and in their personal lives.  
I was provided an advanced reader copy of this book and was under no obligation to provide a review. The opinions expressed are my own. 
Many thanks to the authors, publishers, and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book.
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THE CHARACTER EDGE by Robert L. Caslen, Jr. and Michael D. Matthews was published in mid-October. Its subtitle is "Leading and Winning with Integrity" which immediately drew my attention. If there ever was a time when books on this subject were needed, we are in the midst of it. Much like Jim Mattis (Call Sign Chaos) and William McCraven (Sea Stories), Caslen and Matthews build on their military experience to define the traits leading to high quality leadership and to share numerous stories illustrating them. With positive blurbs from readers as diverse as Angela Duckworth and Coach K, and a chapter titled "It's Not Just about You," THE CHARACTER EDGE deserves a look, especially from leaders whose tough choices today are having a huge economic impact and may literally be life and death for their workers.  For further study, THE CHARACTER EDGE contains a recommended reading list, endnotes and helpful index.
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Character is the moral values and habits of an individual. The Character Edge examines in depth what character is in many different aspects. People look up to others but the author asks are we in a lack of character crisis? We see all around us people without morals from Catholic Priests, politicians, police to teachers in schools. . The author provides an exercise near the beginning of the book to help the reader identify their character strengths and refers back to it often throughout the book. Character isn't a one and done, it's something that needs attention and should grow over time. The author provides case studies to demonstrate his point. He also talks about the many ways to help you grow your character strengths over time from practicing courage, knowing yourself, practicing creativity, engaging in learning and understanding trust. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martins Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I wish that I was able to up this book's rating to 4.5 stars/5 stars. Truly, the only issues I have with The Character Edge are matters of difference in philosophy about humanity at large and my dislike of the slightly political undertones in certain sections. Both of these points are minor and in no way detracted from my overall enjoyment of the book thus far. Caslen and Matthews attempt to do something refreshing by having their readers take an assessment at the beginning of their journey and then consistently refer back to the results as a way of tying concepts together. This effort is very helpful as it gives readers a practical knowledge of things that they can do to address areas of growth. Too many leadership books deal in the theoretical knowledge of character traits necessary to make good leaders. The Character Edge is not one of those books. 

I will be purchasing a hard copy of this book for my shelf and recommending it to others.
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I was very happy to receive a copy of The Character Edge as I have been researching for a good while now the following question: what makes a leader successful? What I have been often hearing from individuals was that basically leaders have to be heartless since they often times have to make rough decision that can have negative consequences in people's lives. I have been trying to find supporting research negating those thought. And in this book I have. 

What makes you happy? Be happy with yourself, love yourself, be accepted and trusted by others. You can only reach this by implementing a sense of trust, make people comfortable in confiding in you, be open to two-way communication, be a good listener, keep working on your character all your life, surround yourself with people with good character,.. The book also includes real-life stories of leaders/CEOs experiencing different situations to be a better feel of the theories presented. The book finally includes examples on how to calculate your level of mentioned character traits and how you can work on improving them. 

I really appreciated it and took many notes to be applied in my life.

Thank you Net Galley and St. Martings Press for this e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Character: The Key to Success


Character enables the individual to live a life of integrity. Sticking to one’s principles and not opting for the easy way out is about leading and winning. The authors, a general and a psychologist, with backgrounds in West Point make these points clearly. They effectively use case studies from industry and academia, as well as observations from their work with the Army to illustrate their points.

The authors also discuss politics. People are losing faith in government because too many of our political leaders lack moral courage. An emphasis on character in our leaders could go a long way in increasing trust in government. 

I thought this book was very well done. Although many of the examples are drawn from the military, they are clearly written and easy to relate to. The authors build on the research of other authors like Dr. Martin Seligman to discuss a conception of character strengths and how they can be categorized into moral virtues. 

This book has good information for both organizations and individuals for improving their organizations as well as strengthening their own character. It’s a must read for leaders and those dealing with people in human resources and psychology. 

I received this book from St. Martin’s Press for this review.
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THE CHARACTER EDGE

That a leader’s effectiveness is inextricably intertwined with their character and values should be obvious, yet it’s easily taken for granted. Ability or aptitude are conditions sine qua non for anyone in positions of leadership, but it’s character that sets apart not just bad leaders from good ones but more importantly good leaders from great ones. 

In that regard, The Character Edge by Robert L. Caslen Jr. and Michael D. Matthews offers offers an intriguing take on this moral dimension of leadership. As they note, studies on the topic often are either personalistic, focusing almost exclusively on “lessons learned” by prominent individuals in leadership roles; or behavioral, delving into the psychology of how character influences (and is influenced by) leadership. Caslen and Matthews hope to marry the two perspectives, providing a more scientifically rigorous take on the interplay between character and leadership. And what better pair to have a go at this than a retired general who once served as the superintendent of West Point and a career academic who has also taught at the United States Military Academy?

As such, The Character Edge does well to operationalize the notion of character in the context of leadership. For instance, Caslen and Matthews define character simply as “a person acting on his or her world in ways that benefit it and, in turn, the world thereby providing benefits for the person,” at once a conceptually simple yet exceedingly practical definition. 

Necessarily, the book provides readers with insights on the aspects of character most important to leadership. It thereafter branches out the matter of choosing and cultivating people of character, before turning to the question of how to develop positive character traits. And it does all these things by drawing on examples from West Point, a military institution whose honor code demands that its cadets “will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.”

The Character Edge is an interesting book, but whether to succeeds at creating that robust complementation of leadership lessons and behavioral science is another matter entirely. For sure, what the book demonstrates is why, arguably, the former is more attention-grabbing over the latter. The book shines whenever it recounts stories about the character (or shortcomings) of West Point cadets, whether during their time at the institution or during their tours in active service and thereafter. It shouldn’t be hard to see why: after all, tales of human struggle are much more interesting than insights derived from even the most useful survey instrument.
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The Character Edge by Robert L. Callen Jr. is a book on leadership through character. It is definitely needed in this time when lack of character seems to be in every company any on every news story. Some of the information provided is a bit pat. Yet, all of it is valuable to Become a better leader.
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The Character Edge by Lt. General Robert L. Caslen, Jr. (RET.) and Dr. Michael D. Matthews is a book written that brings together real U.S. Army and military psychology experiences with several well-known incidents. I was attracted to this book because I feel having appropriate character is important to be successful in any organization.

It was quite a surprise to find that there’s a lot of stories about the U.S. Army. Although I’ve never been a soldier nor served in any military branch, I have several years of experience working at an Army Base. My experiences with Army soldiers helped me to better relate to the Army stories in this book. I’m unsure if I would have fully grasped it all had I not had my experience working with the Army. You, however, dear reader, may be just fine!

Caslen and Matthew’s break down character strengths and why it’s important for an organization to be successful. Each chapter brings readers one step closer to understanding events of the past and how we can learn from it. It tells us that we can each grow in our character as we approach each day.

This book reviews how Dr. Christopher Peterson and Dr. Martin Seligman studied everything about character and identified twenty-four character strengths common to the human species and categorized them into six moral virtues. With these virtues, Caslen and Matthew’s shares examples of how people overcame challenges or succumbed to it because of their virtues.

The book breaks down strengths of the gut, head, and heart. It reminds readers that it’s not about you, how to nurture your good character, and avoid potholes. They share how to win the right way and become successful as an individual and as an organization.

An Advanced Reader Copy of this ebook, The Character Edge by Lt. General Robert L. Caslen, Jr. (RET.) and Dr. Michael D. Matthews, was provided complimentary by NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. It is scheduled to publish on October 13, 2020. I give this book five out of five tiaras because it kept me engaged with real stories and character development that I can see in myself throughout my life.

The Character Edge is one of those books all upcoming leaders should read and have in their arsenal for personal growth. It should be on their office library. Every leader in any organization should have access to and given an opportunity to read.
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This book is a  excellent book on teaching you  how to get things done. It shows us that history is the best  teacher.  The reason why is its a  well worn path filled with visionarys and leaders
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Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher in return for my unbiased opinion of the book.

The Character Edge: Leading and Winning with Integrity. I know what you guys are thinking. Ughh..another self-help book right?? That's what I thought too but after reading first few pages I knew this book was going to teach me a thing or two that I don't know. As the title of this book says this book is about Character. Well...what about character you may ask. I would say everything Character. Character used to be a hard to define term back in the days. Either you had it or not and if you had it it is immutable. This book radically changes our knowledge of Character inside out. Starting from a radical definition to what constitutes a good Character(components of Character) to how to exercise some of our inherent traits to strength our Character so that it is of value in times when it's needed the most. Written by Superintendent and professor of Psychology at West Point most of the insights comes from West Point academic environment but also are included the case studies from civilian institutions. This book dissects the concept of Character and makes it objective for us to concretely understand what it is and takes the subjectivity out of it. Although life's experience has to count for something and if applied correctly and rationally you will find your judgement of someone's character will closely align objectively if you apply the principles discussed in this book. Character is defined at individual and at organizational level in this book giving it a wider scope than previously thought to be a personal quality.

Overall, I think this is a really good book on the subject matter and is a must read for someone in certain professions such as academia, human resources, coaching, higher-ups at a big or small company, etc. Of course everybody can learn something new from this book. I certainly recommend this book.
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Character is defined as a person’s moral values and habits. THE CHARACTER EDGE delves deep into all aspects of character, using plenty of case studies and examples from the corporate world, the military, and beyond to illustrate each point. Several quizzes are included or links provided (e.g. Values-in-Action Inventory of Strengths) to aid in the reader’s evaluation of their own character as well as that of their organization or workplace. 

One’s actions display their values and character. Dr. Christopher Peterson and Dr. Martin Seligman, founders of the discipline of positive psychology divide character strengths into six moral virtues: wisdom/knowledge (creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness, love of learning, perspective) courage (bravery, persistence, integrity, zest) justice (teamwork, fairness, leadership) humanity (capacity to love, kindness, social intelligence) temperance (forgiveness, humility, prudence, self-regulation) transcendence (appreciation of beauty, gratitude, hope/optimism, humor, and spirituality). They encourage a focus on the top “signature” character strengths as well as those at the bottom. Insight may also be gained in examining the distribution of one’s strengths across the six moral virtues.

The author advises that character can be nurtured and grown. He clusters character strengths around the gut, head, and heart. He discusses the outcomes of adversity (resilience, disorder, invulnerability, and growth) and examines how habits and personality traits affect character. I found the discussion of the dark triad—narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy and the dark triad’s links to the seven deadly sins particularly interesting. Also of note are effects of drug/alcohol abuse, social media, a lack of social support, sleep deprivation, and more on character. 

There is plenty of great information on strengthening organizations. from being a better boss, employee, and leader.

The final chapter entitled “Winning the Right Way” provides a great summary of the key concepts of the book and is thus useful for a refresher on the concepts. I especially enjoyed the references to positive psychology. THE CHARACTER EDGE is resource for leaders, those in Human Resources, and anyone with a desire to further develop their character.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, for providing an Advance Reader Copy.
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A leadership and ethics book developed from teachings at West Point. The book contain teaching and self assessment tools for The reader or students To better know their skills and areas of improvement. The inspirational examples come from well known and famous leaders, but more importantly from little known, everyday persons. Highly recommended, especially for those teaching ethics and emerging leadership subjects.
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Strength of character is something that is important to me. I'm always curious to read books about character to read stories about people of character, opinions of what creates good character and tips for working with other people.   There were things I liked and disliked about this book. I suppose it was less "disliking" as much as not being able to relate. The authors of this book both have military backgrounds and connections with West Point so many of the points in this book and examples have do to with the military.  I have very little experience with the military and, although I appreciate the people who serve and enjoyed reading some stories that I had not previously heard, I just couldn't really relate 100%. I agreed with how they broke down character into many different traits- strengths of the head, heart and gut. There were other examples that weren't based in the military that were more relatable to me. I also like that they have suggestions for how to work on your character and evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.
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The Character Edge was a solid effort in the leadership/self-development category but no new information here. There are some brief case studies that are interesting but nothing earth shattering.

#thecharacteredge #NetGalley
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The Character Edge by Robert Caslen and Michael Matthews isn’t really a book that offers insights into character that most people who study leadership regularly wouldn’t intuitively know. People with a strong character will do better long term rather than those who take short cuts for temporary gain is not exactly groundbreaking. But where the Character Edge excels is in the cases or stories of character centered leadership such as the San Antonio Spurs, Tylenol, Bob McDonald at the VA and several soldiers. These help the reader because they show you don’t have to be Superman to have character. 

The other key thing is that character can be developed over time even if readers of the book haven’t had the most virtuous life. There’s even a couple case studies of people who have had character failings. I feel like a lot of books on character and leadership miss that their readers are imperfect people that are seeking some change. We need less of do this and more do this how, which is the direction the Character Edge heads in. 

Can’t go much higher than three though because of the sheer amount of content that I’ve heard stated in different ways fifty times before.
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I received an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review 

Did not know what this book was going to be, but my found myself getting into despite the fairly traditionalist and, uh, masculine slant.  Basically about how bringing good old fashion world values to work makes everyone thrive. Heavy on the military examples but hey that’s definitely going to work for some. Definitely a complement to the many books out there targeting women and millennials in leadership
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I can't say this is a life changing book - mostly because I'm over 50 and have been reading success for the self for about as long as I can remember. Character, however, is a well needed virtue that's seldom mentioned, so this book is a hopeful sign that Character will not be forgotten!  It's a very timely book and one that should be suggested for young people to read (or perhaps gifted to them). 5 stars!
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