Honesty & Leadership
Chances are you don’t really appreciate a holier-than-thou sermon about how “good” you must be. We don’t like it when someone steps up on a soapbox and tells us (from their elevated position) who or what we must aspire to – particularly when the person telling us is highly suspect. You can be as opinionated as you want, but when your tone becomes overly judgmental, people tend to resent it. People also don’t like being lied to. Those who are honest want others to be honest with them.
“Honesty and leadership go together like the gears in an automobile transmission.”
Honesty and leadership go together like the gears in an automobile transmission. I don’t see how you can be anything close to effective as a leader unless you are also honest.
Without mutual trust well-earned, we have no foundation upon which to build healthy relations in business or anything else for that matter. If you want people to respect you and be honest with you, you’d better respect them and be honest with them. Respect and honesty does not mean you lower your standards or are complacent, but it does mean that you would expect from others the same you’d expect from yourself.
By “equity” I mean the quality of being fair and impartial. Nothing creates rancor (bitter and sour feelings) in a business quite like nepotism, favoritism, prejudice, etc. Everyone starts with a blank slate and everyone should be on the same page. Let there be no hidden agenda or under the table deals. The desk manager at a car dealership who secretly gives his brother-in-law a few extra deals per week is making a big mistake; he is betraying the trust of the other sales personnel.
The ancient rule that says to treat others as you wish to be treated is still infinitely applicable. “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” is simply false. The things you don’t know can hurt you the most.
False Statements & Rumor
Never rely on rumor or hearsay in making judgments. Everyone has a right to face his or her accuser. An individual employee has a right to know who reported what. You should always get both sides of the story. “The grapevine” will yield poisonous grapes. Likewise, boasts that someone is “the best” may or may not be true – only tangible and measurable job performance will tell you what you need to know. False and defamatory statements, when verified as such, should not be taken lightly. No one wants to work in an atmosphere of uncertainty where anyone can say anything about anyone and the person in charge believes it.
Personality vs. Performance
A person can be perfectly charming, yet get absolutely nothing done – always rate performance over personality. Certain positions require personality – but even those demand real production and results at the end of the day. One way to rate the value of an employee is to note what happens when they are absent. When they’re sick or on vacation, what happens? Do things take off? Crash? Stay about the same? While that doesn’t tell you everything, it can serve as a useful yardstick.
Part of cultivating an atmosphere of mutual respect and rapport is to keep communication channels clean and clear. People should talk to each other and respect what each other has to say. People should answer their emails, etc. promptly and accurately. Nothing is quite as disheartening as sending an email or trying to reach someone only to get static and radio silence; it generates an atmosphere of mystery and makes people feel “unimportant” when they are anything but. Neglecting vital communication can also cost you a lot of business and lose you money.
It goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – that all this advice about honesty, communication, fairness, etc. applies utterly to how the customer or client is treated. Any business must deliver what is promised if it wants to stay in business. Delivering a high quality product or service in a prompt and courteous manner is essential to any business. You must answer people’s questions and not delay in doing so.
Finances & Statistics
Honesty and accuracy is of utmost importance when keeping the books. Accurately tracking all income and outgo and following all laws will pay off in countless ways. Any troubles connected to dishonesty in this area are distractions you don’t need. Similarly, accurate tally of production is essential in managing and expanding your operation. The term analytics is used in reference to measurement of your various resources, from marketing and sales to manufacturing and delivery. No need to bend these around or distort the numbers. When you have the honest facts and figures, you can act effectively.
Walk the Walk
You’ve heard the cliché “you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” That is a good summary of everything I’ve just described. If you practice something, you have the right to preach it. When you exemplify this in your daily affairs, others can’t help but notice and will be more prone to emulate a similar standard. “Lead by example” is another way of putting it.
What is Leadership?
Is leadership the ability to inspire? It could be – but leadership can also be described in more practical terms. Can you set worthwhile goals and get others to cooperate in their attainment? If you can do this while instilling a sense of purpose in others, you just may be a true leader. But how does one inspire and instill purpose? Honesty is a good place to start. From there, one would demonstrate competence in the chosen endeavor – leading by example.
Are You Listened To?
A great leader could be the one who stands at a podium and delivers an inspiring talk with just the right cadence and emotion, thus producing the single tear rolling down the cheeks of each audience member. History has a few legendary examples of these. The very best ones also weren’t afraid to roll their sleeves up and work in the trenches. A great leader who speaks the truth and acts for the good of all is often targeted by less-than-noble forces. There are examples I am sure you can cite of leaders in your field, your neighborhood, even in your own family. They could be described as those that people listen to. They tend to speak the truth and people are drawn to that. We could use a few more of such people. Perhaps you are one of them.