Leading Blog






08.25.08

Reality Always Wins

Leading With Kindness could just as well have been titled, Leading With Respect – respect for others and ultimately a healthy self-respect. Leadership, if properly practiced, is not made effective by harsh or oppressive treatment. Major General John Schofield put it this way in an address to the Corps of Cadets at West Point in 1879:
He who feels the respect which is due others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself, while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others, especially his inferiors, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself.
Honesty and integrity is about respect for others. Its expression is a manifestation of that respect. Dishonesty is disrespect.

Leading With Kindness
Dishonesty comes in all shapes and sizes, but the authors, Baker and O’Malley, reminds us, “dishonesty is a fundamental failure to recognize the existing facts, regardless of whether you deceive yourself or others….The truth always has a way of expressing itself in the end. But this end is often too late. Success in life as within the corporation requires a respect for reality from the start.”

How an organization conducts is business is a clear sign to employees as to what is expected of them—or more to the point, what they can get away with. “Perhaps the most obvious reason people within organizations cheat and lie is because either it is in their short-term interest (usually financial) to do so, or they are covering up unethical behavior.” In order to offset the temptations in the system for personal gain or punishment avoidance, the authors offer these suggestions:
  • Don’t invite transgressions. Combining impossible goals with tantalizing rewards invites cheating, since there is likely to be no return for playing fairly and achieving. Avoid this bad mix of negative incentives.
  • Establish a culture of trust. There is a fine line between judicious oversight and spying. It is important to have good monitoring systems in place so that people act responsibly with the organization’s assets and recognize the proper management of those assets as a corporate value. Too loose oversight invites the wasting of assets, or worse. Under too strict oversight, employees will fail to see stewardship as a privilege entrusted to them.
  • Underscore the how in addition to the what. The fun of business is trying to figure out how to best satisfy customers’ true needs, knowing that if this is done properly, the “what” will follow. Concentrating solely on the “what” may not only encourage aberrant behaviors to meet objectives, but also result in self-defeating behaviors as well. One way to increase profits is to reduce costs by using, for example, lower grade ingredients or materials. But sacrificing quality for short-term financial gains is not a smart way to retain valuable customers.
  • Model appropriate behaviors. Ultimately, the measure of anyone—and especially anyone called to lead—is in what he or she does. Remember: People are watching and how you conduct yourself in public will have immeasurable effects on others. Leading with kindness includes acting with integrity—consistently adhering to ethical standards of conduct and the organization’s core values.

Posted by Michael McKinney at 06:41 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Ethics



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