On Leadership, Corruption and The Empire of the Heart

Bribery

The United States is more corrupt than Japan, Britain, Australia, Germany, and the Scandinavian nations.

According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, the US ranks 22 out of 181 countries.

You might take consolation in the fact that America is not endemically corrupt, not a broken society, not an un-drainable swamp, as are many nations in the world.

  • But what happens if you add globalization to the mix?
  • What happens when you sprinkle graft, bribery, and unholy alliances into the new supranational context?

We in the US have known corruption in the past. What we have not known are its consequences in a more precarious global age.

Three Key Factors

There are at least three factors that should concern us.

  • First, leaders today lead in a very different world
  • Second, fewer leaders are prepared to handle the new world
  • Third, the new world enables the effects of ethical misconduct to scale to unprecedented orders of magnitude

In my coaching work with CEOs, it’s abundantly clear that the globalizing environment is acting as a crucible that either melts or refines the leader. Leaders are subjected to more speed, greater complexity, and limited resources—all with the same high expectations. Turbulence is the new normal and there’s no prospect of a spontaneous return to order.

Just look around; the familiar bastion of the conventional business cycle is gone.

If there’s no status quo ante, what’s the result? It’s really quite simple: More pressure to perform and more temptation to engage in ethical misconduct.

Leadership Litmus Test

The litmus test is the collision of stewardship and self-interest. Name a spectacular fall from grace that was about skills, knowledge, or experience? When leaders go down, they go down from the inside out. It’s a collapse of character we witness.

Consider the most recent float in the scandal parade—Mark Hurd, the recently ousted CEO of HP. This is a smart and talented person, but we need to be careful not to cling to a belief that leadership is mostly about IQ points and the charismatic arts, as if they will save us.

They never will—especially not in an ethically and morally interdependent global age.

Geo-Repercussions

The risks of ethical misconduct have become unknown and unknowable. With the connectivity of global supply chains, we are vulnerable to the effects of ethical misdeeds performed almost anywhere on earth.

Bribery

Pet food, peanuts, toothpaste, tires, Bernie Madoff, and the sub-prime lending crisis prove that we have entered an era in which a few bad actors can create a geo-ethical shock that incurs loss for millions of people.

If risk equates to probability multiplied by magnitude, we need to be more willing to take our leaders to task for their personal failings.

Personal failings have not only public consequences, but unintended and far-reaching public consequences.

Dishonorable acts are now globally scalable in their effects.

Resisting Temptation

Leadership is alluring.

It tempts you to use position for personal gain. The culminating test is to resist that temptation. But as we all observe, many succumb. It frequently begins as a flirtation of ego that ends in a vortex of corruption. The ambition to govern one’s fellow beings tends to view leadership as the pathway to a glittering world of personal reward. And so under pretense of leading, those of unbridled ambition seek it out and then let us down.

Hence, we observe a teeming gallery of venal characters auctioned to the highest bidder.

It continues to puzzle me that our public discourse on ethics tends to focus on the back end of achieving compliance and little on the front end of developing moral values. Nor do we talk enough about putting those who want to be our leaders under tougher scrutiny. And yet we live in a society in which we are led by many who have not demonstrated the ability to lead themselves.

So it’s more than antiquarian charm to say that leaders should be honest and morally excellent. Civil society ultimately depends on it as a functional necessity and the last line of defense.

As a practical matter, we need to vet candidates for leadership in every arena on character requirements more rigorously then we do.

We need to test their moral bearing capacity so that when stewardship and self-interest collide—and they certainly will—there’s a good chance the leader won’t buckle.

Empire of The Heart

Let’s not forget that leadership begins in the inner world. It’s about the empire of the heart. It is about meeting needs and reaching goals much larger than one’s personal desires or aspirations.

To be fit to lead has nothing whatever to do with being rich and well-born, or even charismatic—dogmas from which we are still recovering. We need men and women of unflinching character to step out of the crisis, steeled for the journey ahead.

So as a leader, how can you step up and exercise your empire of the heart? And with the leaders around you, how can you hold them to standards that are above ethical reproach? How can you and those around you stand on strong ground and work for things of lasting value that positively impact you company, organization, or your city, state, or federal governments with integrity?

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——————–
Timothy R. Clark
Timothy R. Clark
, Ph.D. is president of management consulting firm, TRClark.
He helps in strategy, organizational transformation, and leadership development.
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On Leadership, Transparency and Breaching Confidentiality

Confidentiality

What happens when a seasoned manager doesn’t know the difference between being transparent and breaching confidentiality?

In a nutshell, you get this: Distrust, demotivation, and an epic failure in leadership.

I am an Information Technology Manager at a Fortune 100 firm. We had made some significant changes in how our teams will get work done in 2015.  I was asked to objectively facilitate the many hours of work needed to get to a new organizational model.

I was thrilled at the opportunity to lead change and impact results!

Organization over Ego

When the work started on our new initiative, I was very impressed on the amount of sharing and openness our managers had toward making a major shift in software development.

Dialogue was open and people were engaged. The goal would to be less hierarchical and become more of a flat management structure.

With this new initiative, the change required moving people to co-located teams. This resulted in 30% of the employees having a new manager. And with this amount of change, you can expect that things didn’t always go smoothly.

Ego Takes Over

Unfortunately, when plans were on the drawing board and people were moved around on paper to new positions and reporting structures, the defensive walls started to build and lines of territory started to be drawn.

The professional maturity of each manager started to become clear. Some showed signs of professional maturity and dealt with things well, even if they felt inside that they had a big (and unfair) challenge ahead of them. While many others acted the opposite.

They were much less willing to work for a bigger picture and took a selfish stance.

 Organizational Nightmare

When the discussion moved to the skills and performance of the managers, senior staff sequestered for confidential discussions. The results from this was that we constructed the first hierarchy for the new organization.

And with the historic attitudes reigning, the new org-chart looked exactly like the current one.

  • We had one manager of managers
  • Several first line managers
  • And half a dozen senior individual contributors reporting to the director

What an OD nightmare!

Many members believed we could not get the change needed if we didn’t change the management structure so a flat, balanced organization model was recommended.

Maintaining the Status Quo

Believing that he was just being transparent, the manager with the majority of the organization under his control gave access of the confidential organizational structure options being considered to his first line managers.

This manager was too busy persuading people that his way was the right way that he failed to hear the recommendation was to flatten the organization; including his team.

He also shared with one of his direct reports a discussion that occurred during a closed meeting whether the manager was ready for the more complex role including the name of the staff member who raised the concern.

This was not being transparent. This was breaching confidentiality!

The Let Down

When it came down to the final staff meeting to finalize the new organization, the leader, in order to minimize thrash and too much change, kept the unbalanced organization model.

When the announcements started to roll out, managers who had seen the flat model and thought they would now be reporting directly to the leader of the organization were blindsided. The manager who was told of the confidential discussion confronted the senior staff member.

This not only destroyed the trust. but it also damaged the trust of the senior staff member with his peer. He believed he could raise a concern in a closed staff meeting and not have his confidence breached.

The Moral of the Story

Leaders are always more successful when they are transparent with the people they lead. When they provide the reason for change whether it be due to cost cutting, greater efficiency or because the industry has shifted and the organization needs to shift to remain successful.

However, breaching confidentiality to be transparent and not understanding the difference is a failure in leadership.

Sharing too much detail, including the details and hard discussions that have to happen for a decision to be made, is just poor judgement.

Leaders need to be aware of all of the conversations happening, not just focused on driving their own agenda. In this case, the miss and the failure resulted in several valuable people leaving the organization.

How important is transparency in your leadership practices and how do you groom your managers to clearly understand being transparent without breaching confidentiality?

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——————–
Cheryl Dilley

Cheryl Dilley is an Information Technology Manager at Intel Corporation
She is passionate about changing the game for women in the tech industry
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Leaders are Healers: Leaders Must Heal Themselves

When we read the papers these days or watch television, or consult social media we can easily be filled with sadness and even despair.

We seem to have “leaders” who have no boundaries to the hurt they impose on others.

On Leadership Failures

If we made a list of the hundred worst leaders who do more harm than good, the list would be a horrible summary of humanity’s disgrace. The list would include men and women from all over the world; some from under-developed countries and some from so-called developed countries.  

When we confront the evil lives of those who start wars, displace millions of people, abuse and oppress the needy, destroy jobs and families for a better bottom line, use others with no respect for their dignity, we cannot but be overwhelmed by leadership failures.

Certainly we need leaders who can heal others instead of harming them, but first and foremost it is increasingly obvious that leaders must heal themselves.

On Regretful Leadership

 History and contemporary experiences show us leaders who have led followers to atrocities, violence, hatred, division, and polarization.

But even locally many leaders diminish and become less than they could be because of their own leadership styles.

Some leaders are immersed in denial, arrogance, and deceit, and their leadership makes them inhuman. Domineering, arrogant, greedy leaders create victims everywhere. In many organizations, the boss who is responsible for vision, values, and standards cause regretful leadership.

They have:

  • No sense of responsibility
  • No vision
  • No values
  • No standards

Much contemporary organizational disease that cries out for healing results from leaders’ inauthentic, that is, sick ways of thinking and desiring. Other leaders, at least become aware of a gnawing sense of regret for their leadership failures.

Leaders must heal themselves of their own failures and bring harmony into their own lives.

On Healing Leadership

The primary focus of healing leadership is the self-healing of the leader, who like everyone else yearns for wholeness. So much pseudo-leadership today is a festering wound that must be cleansed and disinfected before it will ever heal.

An individual leader must always appreciate that he or she needs healing in order to effectively serve others and the organization.

Perhaps, leaders should take an oath similar to the physicians; first do no harm.

Some so-called leaders could only have a healing influence on the organization by resigning. There are situations that cannot be healed, such as those that arise from deliberate evil and unethical decisions of a controlling boss.

Moreover, individuals who have been absolute jerks for years and years need psychological counseling before change is possible. Healing self from greed, ambition, and controlling attitudes need:

  • Self-discipline
  • Temperance
  • A focus on others
  • A new view of self
  • A new commitment to integrity

On Appreciative Leadership

A leader who wishes to heal others needs self-care, a healthy lifestyle, and behavioral changes where appropriate. He or she also needs to appreciate the meaning of life, have some personal understanding of suffering and sickness, appreciate the benefits of personal healing, and be open to the healing effects of others.

Once a person understands his or her own need of healing, he or she can then appreciate the advantages of healing for others.

A leader then hopes for his or her own change and for others’ too.

The Hopeful Leader

A leader of hope must also deal with the negativity and pain that come with leading others. At times, leaders work with awkward and difficult employees, suffer the stress and even agony of decision-making, and face the anguish of attempting to resolve gut-wrenching situations.

They must cope with the personally felt consequences of job stress, burnout, accidents, others’ harassment, terminations, losses to the organization when workers retire, and even the pressures of success.

Leaders frequently need to deal with their own pain and with the pain of others, and find that leadership can impact one’s health, relationships, sense of purpose, and fulfillment. They can be dedicated to community and feel lonely. Of course, a sick organization makes good leaders of hope sick too, unless they can steel themselves against it.

Personal Transcendence

Healing self in these situations is part of the ongoing conversion of a leader. It means overcoming personal sin, even the small tendencies to selfishness that tend to weaken one’s wholehearted commitment. A leader’s journey is away from self-centeredness to self-transcendence and to a focusing on the importance of others.

This includes:

  • Removing prejudice
  • Being open to others
  • Listening more
  • Talking less
  • Being more attentive
  • Less distracted
  • Valuing others more
  • Judging others less
  • Centering on the legacy of others

Healing of Self

It will also include working for trust and never presuming it, telling the truth and living the truth in love, communicating well and clarifying positions and values, guaranteeing others their own space, maintaining a vision of high hopes amid the mini despairs.

The training of leaders to self-healing includes integrity, honesty, breaking down barriers, releasing others’ potential, being magnanimous in dealing with others.

Healing of self is a redirection of one’s mind and heart and is an integral component of successful spiritual leadership.

So how are you doing at taking an honest look at your personal leadership flaws and identifying where you are broken? How can you work to find remedies to replace areas of trouble. With whom can you seek advise and coaching to improve you personal leadership effectiveness? i would love to hear your thought!

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——————–
Dr. Leonard Doohand

Dr. Leonard Doohan  is an Author and Workshop Presenter
He focuses on issues of spiritual leadership
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