“A good CEO makes you want to do a better job; a great CEO makes you want to be a better person.” With business leaders’ public — and private — behaviour under increasing scrutiny, it’s becoming nearly impossible to avoid getting caught in a lie. Few things detract more from your credibility and the respect of your colleagues and peers than being called on the carpet to deflect accusations and defend an untruth. Can leaders who lapse learn how to be truthful in words and honorable in deeds? Of course they can.
If you’re fortunate, you’ll meet people over the course of your career who exceed your expectations in every way. When you work or spend time with them, you find yourself wanting to be a better person. You put a lid on both your insecurities and on your sense of entitlement and instead focus on doing and being your best as a way of demonstrating your gratitude to these people you want to honour.
Why do we try to be the best that we can be with such people? Given the choice between instant gratification and the lasting satisfaction of earning the esteem of someone you respect and admire, all but the most small-minded would choose the latter.
What would happen to your leadership effectiveness if you became more like the people from whom others actively seek acceptance and more importantly respect? How productive would your executive team, directors and people become if they all felt that having you as a leader represented the rare opportunity to work with someone that people inside and outside the company admire? How much harder would people work if they were inspired and motivated by the privilege of your acting according to a principled True North combined with an adamant faith in their skills?
If you answered anything less than an enthusiastically positive response to those questions, imagine the effect on people if you acted in a manner that was the polar opposite of this. How motivated would your peers and people be if you attacked, blamed, demeaned, and embarrassed them and yourself? Perhaps they’d work hard in the short run because of fear. Your organisation might squeeze a winning quarter out of intimidation, but without inspiration you will never build a winning company.
What are the qualities that you as a leader should aspire to in order to earn, deserve, and command respect? Look no further than a mentor (such as my mentor, Warren Bennis) whose belief in you made you want to give your best to your professional and personal life and leave the world better than you found it. Chances are they possessed the following five attributes:
– The JUDGMENT to know the right thing to do.
– The INTEGRITY to do it.
– The CHARACTER to stand up to those who don’t.
– The COURAGE to stop those who won’t.
– The TENACITY to keep doing it.
If you consistently practice and develop these qualities in your professional and personal life, you will accrue an additional benefit beyond getting the best out of your people, peers and colleagues, as well as your family. You will develop wisdom. With that you will be able to distinguish what’s important in life, what’s worth fighting for — even dying for — and what makes a life that’s worth living.
- Meet with your team and ask them if they agree with these five qualities as keys to success and if not, ask them how they would change or add to the list.
- Have them come up with a definition of each of the items on that final list and adjectives that go along with each.
- Have them come up with specific observable examples of each.
- Set up a process for recognising and celebrating people when they demonstrate these qualities in their actions.
If becoming this kind of leader speaks to you, find out more at: Executive Coaching, check out some Testimonials and check out our new offering, the Persuade Without Pushing program I co-developed with Dr. John Ullmen from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
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