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Character Carved In Stone: The 12 Cote Virtues Of West Point Pat Williams And Jim Denney

‘Leadership is a potent combination of Strategy and character, but, if you must be without one, be without the strategy’ – General Norman Schwarzkopf

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The 12 leadership Virtues of West Point

1. Compassion

2. Courage

3. Dedication

4. Determination

5. Dignity

6. Discipline

7. Integrity

8. Loyalty

9. Perseverance

10. Responsibility

11. Service

12. Trust


‘Leadership is a potent combination of Strategy and character, but, if you must be without one, be without the strategy’ – General Norman Schwarzkopf


The compassionate leaders that I have known were not feared but were always respected. They were tough wen they had to be and compassionate when understanding what

was needed, but they were never soft or weak.


I know leaders who thought they were compassionate but did not know what compassion meant. They tried to lead by getting people to like them. If your compassion comes from wanting to be liked, then you are a weak leader.


A weak leader avoids controversy, you will back down when you need to stand firm. You will surrender when you should go to war, you will sugarcoat the hard truths and you will confuse compassion with cowardice.


Leaders with authentic compassion are strong, courageous, honest and direct. They say what needs to be said, with empathy.


It is possible to motivate people with fear, but love is a better and more powerful motivator. When people feel safe around a leader, then they take risks but they will achieve a lot.


Types of Courage

• Physical courage

• Moral courage

• Emotional courage

• Intellectual courage

• Spiritual courage


Courage is rooted ..

1. Become a more disciplined person

2. Face your fears

3. Practice demonstrating courage everyday

4. Embrace uncertainty

5. Replace fear with faith


Dedication clarifies our goals and the tasks required. When you are dedicated to. Cause, you will never wake up and wonder what should I do today!


If you are in business, you have to dedicate yourself to excellence, integrity, service to customers, benefits to employees and giving back to community.


Determination is a virtue every leader needs, especially when facing crises, obstacles and opposition. Determination means making up your mind that you will achieve your goal; you will not give up, you will not accept defeat, you will not take no for an answer. 


If you are not determined about your goal, you will find yourself surrendering to indecision, hesitation and paralysis.


‘I like Generals who are so bold that they are dangerous' General Pershing


Dignity was once a highly prized virtue in our society. People valued their own dignity and respected the dignity of others.


Today, our entertainment, our literature, our conversations at work and on the street, all of them have lower respect.


America was once led by statesmen such as Washington and Lincoln, who elevated and dignified the office they led. Today we are forced to choose amongst candidates who

engage in name calling, school yard taunts and indecent behavior.


We maintain our dignity through good conduct and good manners, by remaining calm and poised under pressure, by being thoughtful instead of emotional, by accepting

setbacks and disappointments, by demonstrating excellence in all that we do.


Success is the result of discipline, of repeatedly doing the things that lead to excellence. How then do we become disciplined?


How do we become the type of people who choose the gym over the donut shop, a good book instead of dumb TV, saving instead of spending, and how do we continuously

choose excellence over mediocrity.


Habits that produce excellence

1. Build good habits, through self discipline

2. Define what you want to achieve

3. Whatever you dream of, start now

4. Flee temptation

5. If you fail , forgive yourself, get back on track

6. Find role models and mentors

7. Commit yourself


Legal behavior and ethical behavior are not one and the same. Ethical action is legal but not all legal action is ethical.


We build integrity year moment after moment, year after year by making moral decisions and speaking the truth.


Most leaders see loyalty as a one way street, they expect loyalty but are not loyal. 

Loyalty is based on commitment, not feelings, you can be loyal to a person you don’t like.


Building loyalty in your team

1. Mentor them and help them advance in their careers

2. Keep your office door open

3. Give credit to your people

4. Challenge your people and inspire them to greatness

5. Work shoulder to shoulder with them

6. Be real


Lets put an end to complaining, blaming, offering excuses and take responsibility for our actions


Trust is the glue that hold an organization, team together. When we trust one another, we can achieve great things, without trust we are defeated before we begin.


Trust is crucial in keeping the lines of communication open. Trust is a force multiplier.


Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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D. Shivakumar

The author is Group Executive President – Corporate Strategy & Business Development, Aditya Birla Group

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