Authentic Leadership is Missing… Have You Noticed?
By Jon Michail
Remember when mission statements were The Thing? I remember thinking how cringe-worthy and tacky most of them were while conducting workshops for our clients. They didn’t read well or sound good or inspire any sort of belief in me let alone their staff and clients.
Business gurus and a plethora of articles say they’re useful in all sorts of ways, like establishing the company’s direction and informing the public. My take is that if you, as a CEO or manager or leader do not have a strong sense of values in line with your purpose, then all the mission statements and codes of conduct and web page statements in the world won’t establish a company I would want to deal with.
“Respect, Integrity, Communication”
Remember Enron’s mission statement. ‘Respect, Integrity, Communication…..’ and remember what happened to them ….. corporate collapse and jail for the leadership.
Respect: We treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves….We do not tolerate abusive or disrespectful treatment. Ruthlessness, callousness and arrogance don’t belong here.
Integrity: We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly and sincerely. When we say we will do something, we will do it; when we say we cannot or will not do something, then we won’t do it.
Communication: We have an obligation to communicate. Here, we take the time to talk with one another… and listen. We believe that information is meant to move and that information moves people.”.
Politicians aren’t any better. Have you watched the American election debates… say no more!
I run an image coaching company that primarily caters for high-powered principle centred business executives and entrepreneurs. My company is successful, twenty seven years embedded experience NOT theory. All our team members are well-trained, efficient and discreet, and our services are highly valued by a wide range of business and community leaders.
Sometimes I have to step in for team members doing ‘emergency’ sessions and those times can be real eye-openers. Recently I was overseeing a workshop making sure everything was going smoothly when a nearby conversation caught my attention.
Two men and a woman were discussing their CEO in less than flattering terms. At the last board meeting he’d blamed numerous staffers for the quarterly downturn while ignoring his decisions that had precipitated the losses, he’d reamed out his PA for a press release he hadn’t bothered to check for himself, and he’d threatened a hardworking and loyal staff member with dismissal without finding out the facts beforehand. Sound familiar?
Yes, the guys and gals during lunch had had more to drink than was advisable, and yes, they were being highly indiscreet, but their disgust was evident.
‘You can’t trust him,’ one said. ‘I don’t even talk to him unless it’s absolutely necessary.’
The other agreed. ‘If they keep him on, we’re in deep trouble.’
I was surprised to hear these comments though not shocked. I couldn’t have been, because I’ve heard it all many times before. Certain executives think they’re entitled to treat others poorly because they think they’re above them. Money, power and control – they’ll climb all over others in order to keep them. A sense of entitlement and an immature sense of positional power can do that. Not cool.
That night, with those comments still running round in my head, I had a look at the company website. Yes, it had a mission statement. One phrase stood out: ‘We value the time, skills, and expertise of our staff.’
That company is infinitely poorer for having a CEO with no moral compass. He isn’t reflecting his company’s values, or conveying them to the people he works with. He adjusts the truth to suit himself.
Bullying, lying and being self-serving are unacceptable attributes in anyone. Would you want to work for an organisation that employs someone with those sorts of behaviours?
Unfortunately this type of hypocrisy is alive and well in the world today…. in business, politics and our community. We all put up with it, but is it sustainable?
What do you think?
Jon Michail is Group CEO of Image Group International, an award winning author and recognised as Australasia’s No 1 image coach. Image Group International supports executives, entrepreneurs and their organisations to become iconic and monetised leadership brands.
He is a regular commentator in international media organsations ABC, CNN, NBC, Harvard Business Review, Entrepreneur, Success, The Financial Review and Vogue.