I’ve been exploring.
For the past couple of months, I’ve been taking a hard look at why so many of my clients complain about the exact same thing.
Want to guess what it is? Taxes? Spouses? The price of gasoline?
Good guesses, but… no.
The single most common thing my clients complain about is a toxic work environment.
And this toxic work environment most often features some kind of challenged leadership.
Mark tells me a story. He says, “The company is doing some more belt tightening. It’s been announced that everyone must fly coach on business travel, even if you’re flying international.” He stops for a moment, shaking his head. “Except, of course, for the CEO and the Board Chair – those guys wouldn’t fly coach from New York to Boston.”
We go on to discuss his exit strategy.
Mark’s not leaving just because of the travel policy. No, that little piece of information is the last of many straws which makes Mark aware that the company has a deep set of ethical issues – ethics which contrast sharply with Mark’s own character and beliefs.
And it all boils down to this – Mark’s CEO believes the rules don’t apply to him.
If only Mark’s CEO understood the essence of great leadership: the rules apply even more when you’re leading.
Applying this to yourself, you might wiggle out the responsibility to be ethical by saying, “Oh, I’m no leader.” But I see leaders everywhere. Business owners, CEOs and full-time moms. They’re teachers, cashiers and Congressmen. Taxi drivers, postal carriers and starlets.
They’re you, they’re me, they’re standing right next to you in line at Starbucks.
Like it or not, we’re all leaders, one way or the other.
And leading by example is the most powerful leadership tactic any of us can employ. Want cost-cutting? Cut your own costs first. Want increased collaboration? Get out of the bunker. Want innovation? Foster it. Want solutions? Offer them. Want better communication? Listen, then speak.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. He dreamed that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Seems to me like right now the world could use a little ethical realignment. Right now we could use some integrity. Right now is the perfect moment to take the measure of the content of your own character.
Do you mean what you say?
Are you reliable?
Are you hypocritical in any area of your life?
Do you give what you want to get?
Are you open to the ideas of other people?
Do the rules apply to you?
If so, then great.
If not, it’s not too late – you can start today. Hey, you can start right now.
Start by adding to the content of your own character.
Each decision you make – hold it up to the light. Do you feel good about it? Does it add to your character? Does it create good?
Step by step, grow your ethical standards.
Step by step, make the world a better place.
Step by step, you can be proud of who you are.