Cardinal Virtues

Richert (2016) describes cardinal virtues as the most important of all virtues secondary to the fact that all other virtues hinge on these four. From a linguistic perspective, the word cardinal is derived from the Latin word cardo which means hinge. The metaphor of the Phoenix aligns nicely with these virtues since in order to reflect and reinvent yourself, these virtues are necessary.


Courage is defined as the strength to face something that frightens us. Whether we accept it or not, we all have fears. In Chapter 3 we spoke in depth about the ego and its contribution to fear. If we have strong egos, we can live in fear of our image and what others think of us. Over the years,

I have seen many leaders that were willing to move forward with something that they knew was not going to work rather than admit the flaws in the beginning. Just recently I was in a situation whereby the leader actually fired her staff member and blamed them for a terrible medical outcome that was clearly her fault. She was new in her job and it was apparent that her ego overshadowed her notion of integrity. The result was that she had lost respect from all of us around her and the relationship with her is now very strained. Rather than doing the right thing, she was willing to risk her image thinking that by deflecting and blaming others it would protect her in the long run but it worked in the reverse. I have always seen these situations result in disasters for the leader over time when everyone figures out the truth. Courage is the ability to face adversity and to do the right thing regardless of the outcome for you. Effective, proactive leaders should never get themselves into these situations.

Courage on the part of the effective leader is also related to the concepts of innovation and creativity that we discussed in Chapter 7. Risk-taking is a necessary component of change and with highly innovative solutions, the risk may be higher. Leaders that are going to be effective change agents need to be courageous.

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