Friday, March 16, 2012

Leadership Morality - do you have it?

Well Done Greg Smith, previously an Executive Director, for standing up for Integrity in Leadership. At last someone is courageous and highlighting what is going on inside many organisations today.

The effect on normal intelligent, integral Senior Executives is profound when they are in a toxic culture. It's like a cancer spreading and deepening into the moral fibre of the company. They have little time for a personal life as their leaders expect returns overnight, whilst on holiday and over weekends. Their Global world continues 24/7. This puts huge demands on their physical and emotional health, their personal relationships and it causes huge amounts of long term stress. This can and does happen at the most senior levels in corporate organisations today. If this toxic culture is rewarded then you change the culture very quickly and the cancer spreads.

Of course if you are one of these corporate bullies, it's ok that you survive and perpetuate the behaviour and the culture, but if you are not, if you are an integral leader, then it is a horrendous situation to be in and in the end something breaks. Everyone who is integral must stand for real authentic leadership now or we will have more morally corrupt organisations who fail their people, their clients and their shareholders. Stand Up now - but how?

All senior leaders at the highest levels must stop and be open to assessing the true reality of the culture. Don't ignore what you are hearing, seeing and feeling. It starts with you - you define the culture of the business and so does every single person at senior level. Don't make excuses because it will be because of you that the culture becomes toxic, so take ownership now you can change it.

First Step - start with a Culture Audit. You cannot change the culture unless you know what it is really like. Don't be defensive. Great leaders always listen to their people and their customers first.

Second Step - take ownership for the future vision and values of your business. Words are not enough, they must be visible in the behaviours of senior leaders first. Hold yourselves accountable.

Third Step - cascade this throughout your business, involve the whole organisation, every team and every individual.

Changing the culture takes time, investment, determination and bravery. Do it before you destroy your team, business and your results.

The culture must be in the DNA, the moral fibre, visible in everything you say and do - not just corporate words. They mean nothing if not reflected in the moral fibre and there is no integrity to that kind of leadership. It takes an authentic leader to stand up and be counted and we need them now.

I have met, coached and developed some amazing leaders over my 25 year career. Each one has gone on to maintain their integrity even when times have been tough. As a result they have changed the cultures in their teams, made a stand for integral leadership and have achieved great results in their organisations.

It can be done but you have to be brave, courageous and very determined to stand for what is right.

1 comment:

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