Leaders: So Much for Good Intentions

There’s an old saying in management and leadership training. Good intentions make sense, right? However, there’s a problem with that. People don’t know your intentions, only your actions.

action-speaks

For someone in a leadership role, your day to day action speaks far louder than the words you say or the emails you write. If you are responsible for a team of fellow workers, the way you conduct yourself is the first, and sometimes only measure the crew will use to judge you.

Remember, being a leader involves being able to influence others. Influence comes from a complex blend of many things, but the first item on the list is the respect you can earn from those around you. When you are placed in a management role (or take one on as in opening a business) you have a position of authority that only lasts for a flash. As soon as the team around you sees how you are going to operate, choices get made. If the team decides they cannot respect what you do, you will forever suffer the inability to influence them.

You can have the best of intentions to be a good boss, but you can miss the mark daily. All you need to do is step out of your office and do something that runs contrary to everything you say you stand for.

I’ve known some wise people and otherwise good managers who tripped along the way. One bad action lost them almost everything they had gained in terms of human capital; the respect of their team. One bad goof wipes out everything else. Here are some of the areas where these fatal flaws can emerge:

Character

It’s a bit old-fashioned, but people still look for solid character. If your actions set off everyone else’s BS meter, you are in trouble. Character is about your word. Can people trust exactly what you say you’ll do? Say one thing but do something different, your character suffers.

Integrity

When I look at the definition of integrity, it’s defined as a “concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes. In ethics, integrity is regarded as the honesty and truthfulness or accuracy of one’s actions.”

Consistency is about being the same regardless of the situation. For example, do you know of leaders whose mood changes by the day and make rash decisions on certain days, yet calm and engaging on other days? This would be an example of the inconsistency of actions and outcomes.

Integrity stems from the Latin word ‘integer’ which means whole and complete. So integrity requires an inner sense of ‘wholeness’ and consistency of character. When you operate with integrity, people should be able to visibly see it through your actions, words, decisions, methods, and outcomes.

When you are ‘whole’ and consistent, there is only one you. You bring that same you wherever you are, regardless of the circumstance. You don’t leave parts of yourself behind. You don’t have a ‘work you,’ a ‘family you,’ and a ‘social you.’ You are YOU all the time.

Honesty

Honesty or accuracy of one’s actions requires intentionality and thought. How honest or accurate are your behaviors, actions, and words with other people that you lead? I was at a meeting recently with a CEO who cares deeply about values yet is out of integrity because there is a lack of honesty and authenticity in how he behaves.

While he says that he cares about teamwork, he doesn’t listen to others and gets defensive when challenged with different views. He believes in creating a culture of love but publicly berates and belittles junior employees.

Wrap Up

In today’s world, all the social unrest about workplace conduct is warranted. Too many people in positions of influence have abused their power by making inappropriate advances. It seems years of pent-up violations are coming to light almost daily. The headlines are filled with named celebrities or community leaders being accused of something.

While physical or sexual aggression is clearly the worst of all possible behaviors in the workplace, there are plenty of other failings that undermine a leader’s ability to lead. Fooling yourself into thinking your intentions are good enough pales in comparison to the actions you take each and every day.

Your action becomes the standard by which you will be measured. It begs the question, what was the intention anyway?

Question: What actions have you taken that might undermine your otherwise good intentions? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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