“Ethics” has become but a word linked to a particular situation or set of circumstances. Such a linkage would indicate that one’s values and beliefs change depending upon whom we are with or what the situation in which we find ourselves may be. In life, our environment and those we are with DO change frequently, BUT our value system – our ethics – cannot drift upon the winds if we are to remain an anchor to those around us. In order to be a contributing part of the solution rather than a significant part of the problem, our values must serve as a rock-solid set of principles to establish and guide proper conduct. This set of principles should ALWAYS influence our decisions and choices, outwardly determining our actions, if we are to express integrity and establish credibility. Unless our exhibited actions are natural expressions gained through training, experience, and an application of closely held principles in real life situations, however, those depending upon us for guidance will lose confidence in our choices and fearful of our leadership decisions – often seeking other beacons to lead them from danger.
Making purposeful choices – charting a course and sticking with it as long as it leads towards the destination we have chosen – will help us establish respect. In order to avoid being more “stubborn” than “purposeful,” however, we should be prepared to change our mind (and potentially change our direction) should the situation around us (OR the facts upon which our initial decision was based) be significantly altered. In life, the only thing that is certain is change – not the direction of change nor the likelihood of controlling change, only the knowledge that change will (and does) happen so we must be prepared to manage it. The key to making change purposeful is being able to assess the nature of change and act in a manner that embraces the possibilities it brings rather than closing out the opportunities it generates.
Why would one assume the responsibility and accountability for the results of making decisions at the risk of
highlighting their own individual frailty? Leaders often find themselves placed in a position to make or break relationships, ensure the success of a venture or institution, or bring about the failure of a dream with every decision they make. Good leaders typically thrive on “making a difference.” All of us like taking the credit for things when they “go right.” A good leader will quietly accept the praise for a job done well (often spreading it graciously over the efforts of a team) but will also willingly assume blame for things that went wrong (often individually, sheltering “the team” from outside criticism). Such a leader will not accept a negative result as being a “final destination,” rather viewing it as but a resting point along the road to success – an obstacle that must be identified, addressed, and leveraged in a way that adds (rather than detracts) value. Becoming a good leader requires us to praise loudly while blaming softly. An individual cannot assume this responsibility when he or she consistently strives for the acceptance of others for such transparency clouds the intent of our thoughts and actions.