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The former superintendent at West Point and a psychologist explain why all successful leaders rely on a foundation of strong character.
Among the most successful leaders throughout history—from Abe Lincoln to Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi to Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Jr. to Nelson Mandela—some were brilliant mathematicians and economists, others were creative visionaries, still others were masterful at strategic planning. Their mastery of their field wasn’t the secret to their highly effective leadership. All of their skill, grit, resilience, charisma, and courage emanated from one thing: their strength of character.
Character—the moral values and habits of an individual—is in the spotlight now more than perhaps at any other point in modern history. Politicians distort facts. Corporations cheat customers and investors. Athletes are caught using illegal supplements. In addition to harming our culture at large, these failures of character have a profound and undermining impact on leadership.
The authors of this book are experts on the value of character, its correlation with successful leadership, and how to build it in individuals and prospective leaders. General Robert L. Caslen, Jr. served the US Army for over 43 years and served as Superintendent at the US Military Academy at West Point. Psychologist Dr. Michael D. Matthews is a Professor of Engineering Psychology at West Point who has focused on the psychology of character for years. Together they witnessed firsthand that raw talent is not enough to stand on its own; successful leadership relies on the critical foundation of a strong character.
In The Character Edge they leverage their perspectives to offer an empowering, story-driven argument—backed by the latest scientific research—that character is vital to success. They give readers the tools to build and sustain character in themselves and their organizations by testing readers' strengths of the gut, head and heart and teaching how to build trust and nurture the seeds of character.
“The Character Edge is inspiring and practical in equal measure, drawing upon both scientific research and personal experience in how, and why, to develop strengths of heart, mind, and gut. Only Mike Matthews and Bob Caslen could have written it. This will surely be an instant classic!” —Angela Duckworth, CEO of the Character Lab and bestselling author of Grit
“If you ever aspire to effective leadership, whether at the tactical or strategic level, you'll soon learn that the most important ingredient in effective leadership is character. Bob Caslen and Mike Matthews have captured this truth in both theory and application with moving and insightful stories and personal experiences. This book will both challenge you and motivate you to lead a life of integrity and honor, and in so doing, inspire the men and women you lead to the highest achievements they never thought possible. Bob and Mike have something very, very important here. I hope it goes viral in a big way.” —Admiral William H. McRaven, US Navy (Retired), former Chancellor of the University of Texas and bestselling author of Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations
“General Bob Caslen and Dr. Mike Matthews have done a great job illustrating why character and excellence are the most important elements in effective leadership. I have always believed that character and excellence go hand in hand, and this has always been the formula for our teams that win. Bob and Mike are proven leaders of character, and their examples and principles are what I have used my entire career.” —Mike Krzyzewski, head men's basketball coach at Duke University