Saturday, 26 November 2016

At the risk of repeating myself...

The foundation of authentic leadership is built on certain qualities which are independent of the role to which you have arrived.  These are issues of character more than competence and they are transferable from job to job, company to company, or industry to industry.  They give credibility to everything else about you, your strategies and your performance.  And while none of us is perfect, authentic leaders strive daily to meet the highest definition of these attributes.

Without an order of priority, for there is none, these pillars are:
1.   Truth
2.   Accountability
3.   Ethical conduct
4.   Moral conduct
5.   Legal Conduct

Increasingly these qualities seem to be under attack.  And if not attack, then most certainly they are being eroded. It is not external forces which are bringing about this demise.  Rather it is the internal nature of those in positions of leadership who no longer recognize the importance of maintaining a character above reproach; they no longer subscribe to the foundational qualities that others admire and respect.  

Today, too many leaders have loosed the chains of responsibility and have become accountable only to themselves.  In so doing, they put all of us in jeopardy. 

When truth becomes abstract, it ceases to be truth.  When morals, and ethics and even the law become subjective or situational, standards cease to exist.  When leaders are excused for their bad behaviour rather than being held accountable for it, how do we fairly hold others to account?

In the past decade, personal economic malaise has prompted some to question what is moral; what is ethical; what is legal; what is truth?  It is as if our economic well-being should define that which, in reality, is unalterable. Morals, ethics, laws and truth may sometimes be considered difficult.  But they must not be left at the side of the road as baggage too heavy to carry.

Over 250 years ago, Edmund Burke stated “…the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing…”  We are in times that require good people to demand better from our leaders, whether they are economic or political; educators or religious.  We don’t lack the right perspective; we lack commitment to speak out these opinions. 

As a leader, you are in a particular position to positively influence others simply by the reflection of your character.  Your willingness to be held accountable, and to hold others accountable, raises the bar within your sphere of influence.

We need more leaders to act like leaders.  And we need it NOW! We need leaders who are willing to ‘call out’ others who are not maintaining the standards.  We need leaders who recognize that leadership is a privilege, not a birthright, and that it comes with responsibilities towards a greater good.

I encourage all leaders to stand up…to stand out…and demand from both themselves and other leaders that their example be one of dignity of character.  Model it to your sphere of influence.  RAISE THE BAR for everyone.  Only good can come of it.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Step Back from the Edge

I woke up this morning and saw the sun rise as it did yesterday, and for millennia of days before that.  There were no reports of hell having frozen over.  No flying pigs have been reported.  At least in my area of the world, the sky remains firmly above my head.

Fundamentally there have been no changes to my life.  It is, as they say, business as usual.  Oh, except for the fact that the US did the unexpected – to some, the unthinkable – they elected Donald Trump as their next President.

Several months ago I posted a blog entitled “Lessons from the Donald” (

Things are seldom as bad as they look, nor as rosy as expected.  As the leader, your main responsibility now is to keep your team focused on the present.  No one can state with certainty how the next four years will unfold because Trump steadfastly stuck to a platform essentially devoid of policy specifics.

 If things are working well for you, stay the course.  If results are less than planned, the election outcome does not change your responsibility to respond to the competitive environment and plan accordingly.  You cannot use the election as either crutch or an incentive.  It is one moment in time.  Don’t lose perspective.

I did not have a vote.  Therefore I have nothing to celebrate or mourn.  I have only something else to consider in making my plans.

Your leadership role is unchanged.  Deal with the facts, not the emotions of events.  Be the calm in the midst of the storm.  Those who look to you for leadership are perhaps more in need of it today than last week.  Rise above the noise; maintain clarity of mind; pursue the passions that have motivated you in the past.  Deal with the imperfect just as you always have.  

At the end of the day, the moon will again take its place in the heavens to be followed by sun in the morning.  T’was always thus.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

The Face in the Mirror

The Face in the Mirror

When we look in the mirror we see what others cannot.  We see the flaws; we see shortcomings; we see the mistakes; we see the fear; we see the doubts.  The mask prevents others from seeing through…from seeing truth.

I have often heard people say ‘…I’m really not ready for this promotion…’ or ‘…what were they thinking to give me this job…’

Their concern is that ‘they’ see only the mask.  ‘They’ must not see what is actually going on inside.  ‘They’ are making a mistake because ‘they’ lack all the facts.

Spoiler Alert!  They are not nearly as foolish as you think.  The mask may indeed hide some flaws.  It does for everyone.

But it also hides from your view some of the talents and skills that others see in you.  The quiet confidence; the supportive nature; the strength others draw from your character. All of these things, and more, are often hidden from our own view because we cannot see past our flaws. Our doubts obscure or cloud a full view of our competencies. We focus on what we cannot do rather than what we can do.

If you have been tapped on the shoulder for promotion, fear not.  Those in positions of responsibility know that no one enters a new role as a fully finished product.  But they see the potential and they are committed to your success.

So embrace with confidence the opportunity that awaits. Be filled with the knowledge that they have seen through the mask and like what they see.