Kelleen Stine-Cheyne’s question begs an answer from all of us interested in developing leadership excellence. If leaders are less than honest, credible and trustworthy, are they really “leaders”?
Stand in Barnes & Noble in front of the shelves in the “management” section, pull out books on leadership, and you’ll find a good 50 definitions of leadership.
But I like this one: Leadership is the ability to influence a change in another person. This puts the leadership hat on everyone’s head. You don’t need an SVP title, a group of direct reports, or your name on the door to be a leader. All of us try at times to influence a change in others, whether it’s a client, fellow board member, friend, or a child. We might want our partner in life to stop doing X and start doing Y, our client to choose us for the project, or a teenager to try being more agreeable.
We can talk about a CEO’s honesty, composure, promise-keeping all we want. But we’re leaders too, and we should be looking inward – finding ways to build and maintain our credibility.
I agree with Dr. Stine-Cheyne’s idea that the rewards for choosing less that sterling behavior exist and always will. But there are so many fine examples of the boss “I’d go to hell and back for,” so many leaders who are already good but trying to get great, and just plain folk working on being a better person. I’m optimistic.