The Importance of Values to Leadership

Can one exist without the other?

The Importance of Values to Leadership

Can you have real leadership in a “value vacuum”?

What do I mean by that? By that, I mean a leadership context that is devoid of values or morals. In an article on “Heroic Leadership” earlier I opined the following: “Values are an integral part of good leadership. To be a true leader, you must take a stand on issues. And that stand must be a moral stand. As leaders, we should be mobilizing and motivating our organizations to higher moral ground even when that may not increase the organization’s profit margin or bottom line”. 

What’s goin’ on out there?

Upon further reflection, I am wondering if in addition to a leadership crisis in our society, we just actually be having a moral or values crisis. Could it be that there are just not enough of those who see values that are worthy enough that would make us want to lead others to strive toward reaching those same values? Conversely, could it be that there are not enough of us who see things that have such potential for harm that we will lead others away from those dangerous moral pitfalls?

I would not suggest that only the morally pure would be qualified to lead. For to do so would disqualify all candidates. Nor would I suggest that values-based leadership would be infallible. But, I do believe that leadership is in and of itself a value. Society today would say, “To each his own” or “Live and let live”. Today’s culture does not necessarily see a value in “values-based” leading or in choosing whom they are following based upon a moral assessment of the leader’s character. But, like so many today, I am looking for leaders to rise up with values and morals as their foundation and say “Follow me and I will lead you to higher ground!”

How does this relate to me and my leadership?

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A Leadership Culture

What are the benefits of creating a “Leadership Culture?”

a-leadership-culture

I have opined much recently on the importance of building more leaders instead of just building followers. That is on of the hallmarks of an organization with a “Leadership Culture.” But, what are the benefits of creating such a culture?

Perhaps the greatest benefit of creating a leadership culture is that it provides a steady supply of capable and experienced leaders to constantly propel the organization forward. If you love sports, you could call their your leadership bench.

How strong is your leadership bench?

When it comes to leadership bench strength, some organizations’ benches are pitifully weak. These organizations often have a leadership model that is personality based and sometimes even “cult-ish” in appearance. There is one leader and everyone else pays homage and is fiercely loyal to that leader. Dissent is never allowed. Free and creative thinking and expression are not valued when they differ from the leader.As a result, the organization plateaus or declines over time. Or, worse yet, it implodes when the leader has a crisis. Often, it never recovers from that crisis. The end is usually ugly.

Some organizations have depended on the same set of leaders for years without ever developing new leaders to succeed them. Even some organizations that have attempted to develop leaders have done so without a strategic or integrated approach to leadership development.

So, what should we be doing?

Every organization is unique. But there are enough similarities (even between profit and non-profit organizations) to make the following ideas worthy of consideration. So, if you or your organization wants to get serious and build leadership bench strength, here are some tips or suggestions for you:

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The Business of Ethics

MM - Ethics

I am sure there has been much written about ethics in leadership but I wanted to share some insights recently revealed to me.

I had a visit with some dear friends who have been in leadership positions and one is currently writing a book on “ethics in the university”. He is a retired professor and is a dear friend so, jokingly, I asked him if he had discovered any, to which there was a resounding NO.

The chats usually go with the state of our country then circles around to business models and ethics.

First, I’m not sure why we call it “business ethics”.

Is the place we learn business ethics, in business, or is it too late then?  Our conversation had me asking that question, “Where do we learn” ethics?

Well, I got the standard business answer we all should expect and the one you are thinking. We teach them in college and have training classes and seminars. Which isn’t bad, I might add!

As you may guess at this point in the conversation, I still had plenty of questions. So, one immediate question was; at what age do we start to teach ethics?

Where and when do “we” learn ethics?

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Go Quietly

Quiet Please

I had a very interesting and brief email exchange with a friend via LinkedIn.  He had read an article that I posted on LinkedIn and he “Liked” it.  (By the way, that is very gratifying to a writer. . .  just sayin’)  I responded to him briefly and thanked him for taking the time to read the article and then taking that extra few seconds to give it the internet “thumbs up!”

This will be very brief today.  But he said something in his reply to me that struck a chord.  I had asked him why he thinks our comments are relatively low when our readership is at an all-time high.   And his response was that culture and the politically correct climate is causing this.  In other words, culture is squeezing us into a mold of quiet conformity (my words not his.)

Quiet leadership as opposed to screaming and yelling is a virtue to be sure.  In fact, I have written on this topic several times already.  Consider this one on Mahatma Gandhi and this one on the nature of leadership for some of my thoughts on the topic of quiet leadership.  But what are the implications of the quest for silence on other aspects of our lives and behaviors?

I am traveling this week and much of next week and may not have time to delve into this a little deeper until I return.  But, I really think that he is on to something with his response to me.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have any fodder for consideration as I put my thoughts into words?