Too often we see people promoted into a leadership role and fail.
When I was an Administrator in a nursing home several years ago we were always looking for nurses to take on a leadership role either as a charge nurse or as the director of nursing.
And how did we typically pick them? Well, we looked for the best nurse. A compassionate, caring, and dedicated nurse who had really good assessment skills. We’d say something like, “You’re a really good nurse with good skills and I know I can rely on you to make good decisions. I think you’d make a great charge nurse!”
Then they would be given a shift of nursing assistants and a wing to ‘run’ and make sure the assistants got all the tasks completed in all the plans of care, hygiene, feeding, toileting, etc.
But nearly 8 out of 10 would fail. Why? Because we didn’t teach them to be leaders or supervisors. We just “threw them to the wolves” because they were a good nurse.
Well, in nursing school they teach nursing – not leadership. Their failure was my failure for not teaching and training them.
In order for me to develop leaders, I myself need to be a principled leader because it is my responsibility to grow those around me so they succeed in life. A principled leader is more interested and concerned about those around them than they are with themselves.
In the first two parts of 10 Traits of a Principled Leader we looked at the first six traits:
- They put the interests of the group/organization above their own.
- They understand it is the small acts done when no one is looking that truly defines their character.
- They understand respect must be earned over time and can be lost in the blink of an eye.
- They call attention to their people, not themselves.
- They take responsibility for their own failures and those of the group.
- They share the credit for their successes.
As you can see in the first six, a principled leader’s focus is solely on their group or organization and not on them. If the group doesn’t win, then no one wins.
In this Part 3 we will look at the last four characteristics.
PRINCIPLED LEADERS (7-10)
7. They are consistent and predictable in their decision making.
A principled leader doesn’t go around making decisions based on which way the wind blows. Whether a product launch fails or the outcome of a strategy to move the organization forward backfires, you know what decision the principled leader will make. If you are in the trenches and fight the small battles and understand the principles of their decision-making then you can predict what the response will be when major challenges hit you.
8. They strive to do what is right instead of what is convenient, in spite of how it affects them.
It’s not too often these days you see someone who chooses to do what is right no matter how difficult it might be or what it might cost them.
When was the last time you stopped and helped someone change a flat tire, knowing you will be late for your appointment, because it was the right thing to do?
When was the last time you spent the afternoon with your grandson at the park knowing you had yard work that needed to be done, because it was the right thing to do?
When was the last time you took the blame for a problem at work knowing it wasn’t your fault and it will leave a mark on your record, because it was the right thing to do?
Be that rare person.
9. They aren’t afraid to make unpopular decisions and make sure those affected understand the rationale for it.
At some time, a leader must make decisions. Not all decisions are fair or popular. But a principled leader cares more about those around them and the future of the organization to make sure everyone affected understands the vision and reason for the decisions. They talk through it and listen to their coworkers to make sure each one knows they are being heard.
Many leaders fail at this point. They try so hard to be friends with their coworkers or the team they lead, that when a tough decision comes they either don’t make the right decision or they turn into a bully. Neither is good for the organization and their leadership pretty much ends.
10. They only serve organizations that don’t ask them to compromise their principles.
Principled leadership is ingrained in them. It has become who they are and to ask them to compromise those principles is asking them to violate who they are.
Don’t take a leadership position just for the glory or prestige. Yes, you will receive many accolades and awards but it will be very shallow and not rewarding.
Knowing you stayed true to who you are and didn’t compromise will actually give you many rewards in the long term.
As we reach the end of these posts about Principled Leadership, the overriding concept is that you operate from a set of values that earn the trust of those around you. And that trust will result in people that respect you and will follow you.
When that happens, you and those around will accomplish wonderful things!