Doing the right thing. It’s paramount to our role as leaders, and we cannot overestimate our responsibility to do the right thing and make good decisions, especially where our teams are concerned. I really like what Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Andrew Ward have to say about this responsibility of leaders in their 2007 leadership book, Firing Back:
“As a leader, you have to not only do the right thing, but be perceived to be doing the right thing. A consequence of seeking a leadership position is being put under intense public scrutiny, being held to high standards, and enhancing a reputation that is
constantly under threat.”
Here are two important ways we can live out this quote in our daily leadership walk:
Remember that your team is watching (and learning). Whether you’re aware of it or not, your teammates (and even people on other teams inside your organization) are watching you, especially in the challenging times. They observe how you react to bad news, to stressful situations, to gossip, and to politics. And they’re not only watching to see what you’re going to do or what you’re going to say in the face of tough times. They’re watching to learn how they should handle themselves in similar situations. Your team’s behavior, decisions, and reactions will usually model your own, so model the attitude and the actions you want to see in your team.
You set the standard. As the titled leader, your actions and decisions set the standards for how your teammates act and make decisions. If you set the bar low, the people on your team aren’t likely to rise above it. Be the first to hold the line, and work to establish standards in your ethics and your behavior that your team strives – not stoops – to attain.