Honesty as a Leadership Quality
People want to follow an honest leader. Years ago, many employees started out by assuming that their leadership was honest simply because the authority of their position. With modern scandals, this is no longer true. When you start a leadership position, you need to assume that people will think you are a little dishonest. In order to be seen as an honest individual, you will have to go out of your way to display honesty. People will not assume you are honest simply because you have never been caught lying. One of the most frequent places where leaders miss an opportunity to display honesty is in handling mistakes. Much of a leader’s job is to try new things and refine the ideas that don’t work. However, many leaders want to avoid failure to the extent that they don’t admit when something did not work. Opportunities to display honesty on a large scale may not happen every day. As a leader, showing people that you are honest even when it means admitting to a mistake, displays a key trait that people are looking for in their leaders. By demonstrating honest with yourself, with your organization and with outside organizations, you will increase your leadership influence. People will trust someone who actively displays honesty–not just as an honest individual, but as someone who is worth following. Forward-Looking as a Leadership Trait
The whole point of leadership is figuring out where to go from where you are now. While you may know where you want to go, people won’t see that unless you actively communicate it with them. Remember, these traits aren’t just things you need to have, they are things you need to actively display to those around you. When people do not consider their leader forward-looking, that leader is usually suffering from one of two possible problems: 1. The leader doesn’t have a forward-looking vision.
2. The leader is unwilling or scared to share the vision with others. When a leader doesn’t have a vision for the future, it usually because they are spending so much time on today, that they haven’t really thought about tomorrow. On a very simplistic level this can be solved simply by setting aside some time for planning, strategizing and thinking about the future. Many times when a leader has no time to think and plan for the future, it is because they are doing a poor job of leading in the present. They have created an organization and systems that rely too much on the leader for input at every stage. Some leaders have a clear vision, but don’t wish to share it with others. Most of the time they are concerned that they will lose credibility if they share a vision of the future that doesn’t come about. This is a legitimate concern. However, people need to know that a leader has a strong vision for the future and a strong plan for going forward. Leaders run into trouble sharing their vision of the future when they start making promises to individuals. This goes back to the trait of honesty. If a leader tells someone that “next year I’m going to make you manager of your own division”, that may be a promise they can’t keep. The leader is probably basing this promotion on the organization meeting financial goals, but the individual will only hear the personal promise. Leaders can communicate their goals and vision for the future without making promises that they may not be able to keep. If a leader needs to make a promise to an individual, it should be tied to certain measurable objectives being met. The CEO in the example didn’t realize how much damage he was doing by not demonstrating the trait of being forward-looking by communicating his vision with the organization. The CEO was forward-looking. He had a plan and a vision and he spent a lot of time thinking about where the organization was headed. However, his fear of communicating these things to the rest of the organization...
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