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Ethics and Leadership in Business Development

By Bill Scheessele, MBDi

In the 25 plus years of working with some of the best people in business development within the power generation industry, we at MBDi have found some unique characteristics that separate these individuals from the rest. No matter what organization they work for, what services they provide, what client base they serve or the economic climate in which they are working, we find that these individuals are among the top 3 percent of the professionals in their field. In addition to learning to think as CEOs, presidents and entrepreneurial leaders of business development units, we’ve discovered they have acquired the behavioral characteristics of a leader. They have learned to set strategic and operational objectives when putting together plans. They’ve also learned to be visionaries and see opportunities for their organizations that other individuals may miss. In addition, in the role of business development, they have mastered the 12 Core Competencies that are used as a benchmark to measure leaders.

One of the most compelling definitions of a leader is an individual whose mere presence inspires the desire to follow. When asked if leaders are born or bred, the general consensus is that leadership can be taught. While few of us have had the opportunity to be formally trained or mentored in leadership, all of us are called to be a leader at different times and circumstances in our lives. Leadership is first about who you are as an individual, not what you do, and the term character best describes the core characteristic of a leader. Character is seen as the summation of an individual’s principles and values, and it is this part of an individual’s character that inspires others to follow. In other words, the core belief by which an individual anchors and measures his or her behavior in all roles in life impacts his or her leadership abilities. Principles and values of a positive leader include loyalty, respect, integrity, courage, fairness, honesty, duty, honor and commitment.

If character is the summation of an individual’s principles and values, then ethics is their application. To understand more about character development, we can reach back nearly 2,500 years to the writings of Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle taught that moral virtue is acquired by practice. Ethics, according to Aristotle, is moral virtue that comes about as a result of habit. Ethics has as its root in the word ethike, which is formed by the slight variation of the word ethos (habit). Aristotle explained that moral virtues do not arise in us by nature; we must accept them, embrace them and perfect them by habit. Leadership training emphasizes that understanding leader values and attributes is only the first step in development. A leader must also embrace values and practice attributes, living them until they become a habit.

In business development, success requires a fusion of who we are as an individual, along with our principles, values, ethics and their application. It’s a unique combination of what we know, how we apply it and what we do.

In forthcoming articles, I’ll deal in more detail with the 12 Core Competencies as they relate to individuals, their knowledge and their behavior.

Bill Scheessele is CEO/Founder of MBDi, a Business Development consultancy based in Charlotte, N.C. For the past 26 years, he has led a team of professionals who assist client firms in leveraging their high level expertise into bottom line business. Information on the company and the MBDi Business Development Process™ access: www.mbdi.com.