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Oct27
Leadership Traits Include Empathy and Integrity

I appreciated some excellent comments from yesterdays post about a survey identifying the Top Ten Leadership Skills.

What would you put in the list? What skills or qualities do you think are most important for a leader?  Leave a comment below and let us all know.

One comment suggested that empathy was an important trait. I would agree. I think that empathy is embodied in the two skills listed in the survey – integrity and relationship building. Empathy is understanding and understanding builds relationships of respect.

Integrity involves making judgments and taking actions that are not self-interested but that are best for the whole of the group. While fanatics have uncompromising zeal for a goal or cause, leaders with integrity have uncompromising commitment to judgments that are best for their community of followers.  This judgment cannot serve the needs of the community of followers without empathy.  Leaders must solicit, respect and value the views of others. Leaders cannot allow these views to carry more weight in a decision if they are accompanied by money, power or political influence.

I think it is interesting that the word “integrity” is often used to describe not just people or their behavior but also objects. For example, a computer system is described as having integrity as long as it is not breached or corrupted by error. Integrity represents wholeness, intactness and purity in objects. Likewise, these same qualities can and should apply to leaders. Leaders with integrity cannot be breached or corrupted by outside influence. Their character is impervious to external pressure and grounded in morals or ethics that are immovable. By standing for something, leaders with integrity draw followers because followers know where their leaders stand at all times. Followers draw strength and confidence from this assurance.

If you are unsure about this principle of leadership, think about the recent scandals. In each case, whether Enron, WorldCom or how the Mark Foley situation was handled, the people in these cases let an external influence (political advantage, money, power, prestige) breach their character. In most cases of corruption, I would suggest that the people around leaders convince them that their behavior is justified or acceptable. Accepting any outside influence or opinion to justify your personal actions is a sign that your integrity has been breached. Beware, this pressure may come from your boss, shareholders, the competition, stock market analysts, a board of directors or your spouse.

At Enron,enron stock.jpg the words "Respect. Integrity. Communication. Excellence." were found in many places, the least of which was the company’s stock certificate. Despite its well thought purpose, the integrity of the Enron system that included "Respect. Integrity. Communication. Excellence." was breached.

From the blog “Moving at the Speed of Creativity,” came this quote from a Tulane professor, “Good people do horrendous things in the workplace because they don’t see the situation as an ethical dilemma. They see it as a business problem to be solved.” 

Integrity looks beyond the business problem to judge right from wrong. The best leaders and those that follow them know this.

 

 


Oct26
Top Ten Leadership Skills
It was no surprise to me that in a recent survey that asked what skills or traits are most important for effective leadership, integrity and ethics came out near the top. Given the recent corporate scandals and dismal ethical record of... Continue Reading
Oct22
Build Up or Tear Down - Which Way to Lead Change?
Have you seen lasting change come more from tearing down a thing or from building up its counterpoint? Does one trump the other in a city dying for lack of transformation? Tom Melohn said … One way to encourage people... Continue Reading
Sometimes, It's OK to Brag!
If you've ever taken one of my workshops, you'll know that one of my pet peeves is dealing with arrogant people.  Arrogant people tell you how great they are, but confident people simply exhibit greatness in their work. Occasionally... Continue Reading
Oct15
Timeless Principle #2 – Be A Good Listener
A few weeks ago I mentioned 12 simple (but not simplistic) principles that all managers should practice. Principle #1 was to look on the inside, not the outside when dealing with people. Principle #2 gives you some insight on how... Continue Reading
Oct10
Ridiculous Business Solution - From Amish Leaders to the Rest of Us
Last week, Amish leaders brought us all to our knees with sorrow … when gut-wrenching violence struck their strong, peaceful community. We mourn with them… we see who they are to any community … and we want to know... Continue Reading
Oct 5
Are We Missing Mark Foley's Real Leadership Story?
We know … or are quite certain that … Congressman  Mark Foley …1. was raped by a man who said he represented the gospel – and then sexually abused others …2. claimed to represent American voters - and then sexually... Continue Reading
Oct 1
What Bad Bosses Can Learn From "The Jerk"
As is customary for me in the first week of the Intro to Management course I teach, I’ll ask the students about the worst boss they’ve ever worked for. Here are some of the responses so far: My manager... Continue Reading
5 Questions Successful Leaders Ask to Stem the Snipers!
There are 5 two-footed questions that reflective leaders … who are interested in building goodwill … tend to ask when others are sniping at them…. These questions will also help to guide a business out of the path of sharpshooters... Continue Reading

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