Leading with Character and Competence
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Leading with Character and Competence
Moving beyond Title, Position, and Authority

“Leadership is an applied discipline, not a foamy concept to muse about,” says three-time CEO, Oxford-trained scholar, and consultant Timothy R. Clark. “In fact, it's the most important applied discipline in the world.” The success of any organization can be traced directly to leadership. And leadership can be learned. But too many books and development programs focus exclusively on skills.

In reality, performance and ultimate credibility are based on a combination of character and competence. As Clark puts it, character is the core and competence the crust. He shows how greatness emerges from a powerful combination of the two, although in the end character is more important. A leader with character but no competence will be ineffective, while a leader with competence but no character is dangerous.

Clark spotlights the four most important components of character and competence and offers a series of eloquent, inspiring, and actionable reflections on what's needed to build each one. Fundamentally, he sees leadership as influence—leaders influence people “to climb, stretch, and become.” You need character to influence positively and competence to influence effectively.

This is a book for anyone, no matter where he or she is on the organization chart. Because today employees at all levels are being asked to step up, not only can everyone be a leader, everyone has to be. Clark's insights are profound, and his passion is infectious. “Leadership” he writes, “is the most engaging, inspiring, and deeply satisfying activity known to humankind. Through leadership we have the opportunity to progress, overcome adversity, change lives, and bless the race.”


Timothy R. Clark is founder and CEO of LeaderFactor, a consulting and training organization that focuses on leadership development, change management, and strategic agility. Clark earned a doctorate in social science from Oxford University and is a former first-team academic All-American football player at Brigham Young University. He is the author of four books and more than one hundred articles. His clients include organizations such as Accenture, Dow, the FBI, Genentech, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, and Stanford University.


“Again, Timothy Clark has captured a complex topic with elegant simplicity. His character and competence dimensions and the four cornerstones of each offer timeless principles that will enable all leaders to fulfill their potential. His artful writing captures images and offers guidance that will enable any aspiring leader to be better.”
—Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert Professor of Business Administration, University of Michigan, and Partner, The RBL Group

“This book will be the cornerstone of MBA programs and leadership training. It is packed full of practical real-world examples from the production floor to the chaotic decision-making dens of CEOs.”
—Michael Goold, EdD, Chief of Police, Rancho Cordova, California 

“This book provides new and seasoned leaders with practical tools for leadership development. It's a great reference that offers fresh insight combined with compelling stories. You will find breakthrough concepts and ideas that you can put to work right away.”
—Murray Manzione, Director, Leadership and Professional Development, NVR

“As a high school calculus teacher, I honestly did not see how this book would apply to me personally. I love teaching, and I don't have aspirations of becoming a principal. However, Timothy Clark's description of a true leader is what every devoted and caring teacher is striving to become! If all teachers were to genuinely put into practice the ideals described by Clark, the learning environment in classrooms across the country would change dramatically.” 
—Craig B. Smith, calculus teacher, Lone Peak High School

“I have known Tim for nearly twenty years. He never ceases to amaze me with his ability to synthesize and inspire. This book offers powerful guidance for leaders. I am eager to apply what he teaches.”
—Eric L. Denna, Chief Information Officer, University of Maryland

“Tim's book challenges us to have the courage to consistently model true leadership. As a parent, I think the most important place to get it right is at home.” 
—Libby Macomber, Partner, Advantage Performance Group, and mother of teenagers