William Lyon Phelps wrote, “The final test of a gentleman is his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.” While this rings true in every situation, it is especially true for those in leadership positions.
In general, effective leaders must abide by higher standards than others, ethically, morally, in all things character- related, on a consistent basis. The greatest leaders are those that inherently exhibit these high personality, attitudinal and behavioral qualities, and cannot be turned on and off.
1. Many who ascend to leadership positions wish to portray a public image of being a value- oriented, caring, considerate leader, who is selfless and giving. Unfortunately, many of these individuals are merely putting on a charade, trying to pretend to be something they are not.
We have all witnessed people who are continuously “sucking up” to get ahead, always acting like the cheerleader to anyone they believe influential. In my over three decades of working with organizations and their leaders,
I have continuously observed people who try to endear themselves by making innocuous, supportive statements anytime an influential person says or writes anything. Often, these people seem to find it necessary to go on record supporting someone, hoping to win favor and influence for themselves.
On the other hand, a true leader maintains his integrity, always being consistent in his statements, and never saying different things to different people. The real leader commits his efforts for the benefit and good of the organization and its members, always placing the interests of the organization about his own.
The great leaders are not phony, because the one thing that cannot be “taught” in a leadership program is true personal integrity. One cannot sometimes have integrity!
2. Insincere individuals who ascend to positions of leadership often surround themselves with a clique that agrees with them, and constantly tells them “how great they are” and “what a great job they are doing.”
The greatest and most effective leaders build an inner circle of advisers that they trust, not because of personality or policy agreement, but because they feel that these individuals “bring something to the table” in terms of positive experiences and essential expertise, and a commitment to the organization and its essential mission.
The great leader’s only prerequisite for adviser other than what I just mentioned above is an unswerving devotion and commitment to the leader’s vision for the organization, and the goals he wishes to achieve. A great leader realizes he does not need to be surrounded by “Yes Men,” but rather needs advisers who have the courage of their convictions, and personal integrity as well.
If a leader does not possess genuine feelings for the organization or its members, he is unqualified to serve. While he certainly does not have to agree with others, he should respect them as people, and understand their absolute right to speak up. He should encourage that, and emphasize communication, and mutual respect.
By Andrew Clapton