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.

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