More and more, we see examples of leadership that are less than stellar – including less than honest communication.
Part of this seems to be a win at all costs mentality where “at all costs” means any way you can – even if that includes lying, bullying, cheating, and changing the rules so you can win.
As someone who spent many years as a leader in the military and 20 years leading a business, I find this disheartening. Crony capitalism and other forms of cheating are not good by any stretch of the imagination.
More than disheartening, it elicits anger. Increasingly, people see business owners and entrepreneurs as greedy and dishonest rather than risk-taking, job creators.
You won’t find these negative “win at all costs” methods listed in any of the great leadership books.
Silence is Part of the Problem
Most leaders and business people are busy in their businesses, trying to survive and create some success. The odds of a company growing past one million dollars in annual revenue is surprisingly low. The odds of lasting ten or more years in a multi-employee is also not in your favour.
This risky journey is why not everyone does this entrepreneurship thing.
Small and mid-sized businesses taken as a group are the most significant creators of jobs in the nation.
Conventional wisdom says to avoid politics and anything else that is controversial in our business dealings. After all, you don’t want to alienate a potential customer.
This stance might be a mistake.
Honest Communication is Part of the Solution
We need people to stand up for what is right. In the realm of leadership, that means not being so timid about ethics.
Lead by Example
Now more than ever, we need business leaders to lead through honest communication and behaviours. This effort includes interactions with:
- Your employees,
- Your leadership team,
- Customers and clients, and
- The public
Don’t Tolerate Less
If you start bending the rules, eventually, the rules become fragile and can be broken at will.
You get more of what you tolerate – set boundaries. Define winning and the rules.
Enforcing hard boundaries means making some tough calls. You don’t have to be a jerk in how you deal with it, but you either value ethics or you don’t.
You can’t tolerate exceptions anywhere in your sphere of influence.
Communicate the Good – Inspire For Tomorrow
We need to celebrate our good business leaders.
Good does not necessarily mean giving to charity (although that is not a bad thing) or following some other altruistic principle. A business that is providing value to customers in exchange for money is already giving back.
It means the leaders and business cultures live by a consistent set of acceptable values.
Making lots of money is not a bad thing. Money is a tool. It means you can grow, employ more people in good jobs, and spend your money in an economy that creates even more jobs.
Let’s find the shining lights and drown out some of the negativity out there.
Better yet, let’s inspire more people to become great leaders who value honest communication.