Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Change Your World: Normalize Good Leadership

Surveys that ask people about the attributes they want in a leader consistently present a different perspective than the usual dictionary definition of leadership as the act of cultivating and motivating people to achieve a common goal.  Instead, people say they want leadership that goes beyond an ethically neutral definition that neither endorses nor rejects the motivation strategy (e.g., using fear versus fact) or the outcome (e.g., service to others versus greed or power).   What people want are good leaders. Leaders who have both moral and technical excellence.

Honesty and trustworthiness, fairness and principled decision making, the exercise of self-control, and care about people and society are components of moral excellence; technical excellence includes ethical motivation and the accomplishment of a goal through ethical means.  The combination of both is called Good Leadership. 

Good leadership keeps on giving.  Studies show when good leadership is practiced there is better organizational health and the impact spreads to the individual and broader community. On the other hand, when leaders act without moral or technical excellence, their followers tend to imitate their behaviors with negative outcomes.  For instance, if leaders engage in disrespectful behaviors or are dishonest, it is likely their followers will engage in the same practices with co-workers and customers.

In today’s corporate and political world, it may seem that bad leadership is being normalized.  However, end-runs on good leadership are centuries old. To promote good leadership, the challenge for all of us is to normalize it by our own behavior and by demanding it of others.  While it may seem we are unable to change the world, we have it in our power to change OUR world...... and through a ripple effect normalize good leadership as the standard for the world to practice. 
Use the exercise below, adapted from my book Leadership Development for Healthcare: A Pathway, Process, and Workbook, to reflect upon your behaviors and how you practice good leadership that motivates and inspires others:

How often:

  • Can I be depended upon to complete tasks I promise to do?
  • Can I be trusted to tell the truth?
  • Do I listen to others ideas mindfully and non-judgmentally?
  • Do I ask others for their input?
  • Do I consider how others’ needs and rights will be affected before I make decisions?
  • Do I try to avoid short-cuts and do things in the right way?
  • Do I do I think about the consequences of my decisions?
  • Do I hold my temper when people disagree with me?
  • Do I hold other people accountable for their own behavior?
  • Do I make fair and balanced decisions?
  • Do I share my views with others on ethical behavior?
  • Do I balance my needs and rights with the needs and rights of others when I make decisions?
  • Do I balance the needs and rights of an individual with the needs and rights of others?

My book:  Leadership Development for Healthcare:  A Pathway, Process, and Workbook,  is available from AHIMA press and all online booksellers.  Visit for upcoming events for women and leadership.

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