The title of this blog is also the title of the 1986 song by one of my all time heroes Billy Joel. I’ve always been passionate about music but one of my other passions is leadership which brings me on to the subject of this post.
Recent research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development says that only 58% of us trust our leaders. The only surprise for me is that the figure is that high given the scandals of phone hacking, MPs Expenses and more recently the fixing of the LIBOR interest rate by the banks.
The late Stephen Covey in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People writes about how the Character Ethic had been replaced by the Personality Ethic in business. The character ethic believed success as being down to things like integrity, humility, fidelity, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity and modesty. Covey noted that after the first world war there was a shift from the Character Ethic to what we might call the Personality Ethic. Success became more of a function of public image, of attitudes and behaviours, skills and techniques and a positive mental attitude. The Character Ethic became mostly lip service; the basic thrust was quick-fix influence techniques, power strategies, communication skills and positive attitudes. Jim Collins in “Good to Great” talks about level five leadership – with modesty being a key component.
So is Covey right ? Was this the shift that has taken business to a point where the culture is toxic and CEO’s either claim not to know or turn a blind eye.
I keep reading of the clamour to return to authentic leadership, I’m not really sure I know what that this is but I do believe the following are pre-requisites of great leaders:
- They keep their promises
- They respect their customers
- They don’t ask their employees to do anything they are not prepared to do themselves
- They apologise if they get it wrong
- They share their past failings with others
- They do what is right for the organisation and its customers
There may be behaviours that I have missed off my list in which case I’d love to hear from you about them ?