My passion and expertise is helping businesses develop authentic leaders who people want to follow. My experience has proven that the quality of performance in most organizations is a direct reflection of the quality of leadership. I have identified four questions that have proven to determine the worthiness of leaders:
The executives responsible for the collapse of Enron failed the test with a less than stellar score of 25%, earned with a single 'YES' to question #1. Research (read Working With Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman) has proven that intelligence is not a determining factor in the lives of successful leaders but has proven, if anything, a hindrance. In their pursuit of power and control, these individuals chose to abandon what was right for what was popular. This egotism is truly the 'PGA' of the Good Old Boy Network – Power, Greed and Arrogance! Following is what former Enron President Jeffrey Skilling had to say about people at an electricity industry conference in Arizona in 1997…
"You must cut costs ruthlessly by 50-60 percent. Depopulate. Get rid of people. They gum up the works." (Source: The Seattle Times, April 5, 1997)
One of my heroes, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, made the following statement of wisdom that best illustrates what is often missing in today's "bottom-line" business environment - "The softest pillow is a clear conscience."
Since the character of leaders is the destiny of organizations, we need more men and women who have the courage to stand for what's right and not compromise their souls in the name of political correctness. In their passionate search for acceptance, far too many are busy polishing their personalities at the expense of their character. Personalities are superficial - an outward perception of what people think - while our character is the true self, who we really are. The following Chinese Proverb states it best - "If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in character. If there is beauty in character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world." Wise leaders understand that self-justification is the beginning of self-destruction and living a life of integrity is simply doing the right thing in all situations, regardless of the consequences.
Finally, and most importantly, the single greatest responsibility of a leader is to keep hope alive. If you don't love people you will never lead them. Authentic leaders foster an environment of total trust and understand that to create a sustainable culture of excellence requires the commitment of all team members to a cause greater than any one individual. With rare exceptions, most managers are so possessed with self-promotion they have little time left to serve those they are supposedly leading. As Viktor Frankl, in his wonderful book, Man's Search for Meaning, stated - "The Statue of Liberty on the East Coast needs to be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast."
Do you pass the test?