Posts Tagged ‘responsibility’

forgiveness quintessential leader

Of all the things that we humans are called upon to do, it is my opinion that real, genuine, authentic forgiveness is one of the most difficult. Humans, by nature, get a certain perverse enjoyment out of nursing grudges against others, holding on to wrongs done to them, and feeding what they believe is eternal and justifiable anger toward other people.

It doesn’t make any sense logically, objectively, or rationally because, in the end, unforgiveness causes a lot of self-inflicted pain that can sometimes last for the rest of a person’s life.

Because here’s the irony of being unforgiving.

No one suffers but the person who can’t or won’t forgive. The people who wronged the unforgiving go on with their lives, unaware of, perhaps, or, more likely, uncaring about the effect their behaviors. (more…)

the quintessential leader building trust and being trust worthy book

In the first post of this series, the excerpt from chapter 1 included a list of all the components we must develop and have to build trust and be trustworthy.

In the subsequent chapter excerpts detailing the components we need to have and develop to build trust and be trustworthy, chapter 2 discusses honesty, chapter 3 discusses integrity, and chapter 4 discusses fairness, and chapter 5 discusses righting wrongs.

This post, which includes an excerpt from chapter 6, discusses the component of accountability that builds trust and makes us trustworthy.

Accountability is a two-pronged component that includes both a sense of duty and a willingness to take responsibility for our conduct, whether that is our words or our actions, or both.

Accountability also entails taking responsibility for the things and the people entrusted to us. Literally, when we are accountable we stand as a shield between everything and everyone we are responsible for.

If attacks come from from outside, we take the hit. We provide a safe and protected environment where growth, learning, and progress can thrive because we encourage it and the environment is threat-free.

Accountability, therefore, encompasses a large amount of territory. It also requires that we put our egos permanently on the shelf and conduct ourselves selflessly in all areas of our lives.

But, like all the other components of building trust and being trustworthy, accountability is rarely seen among people who are leadership positions today.

Building trust and being trustworthy is an integrated trait of quintessential leaders.

It is also an integrated trait that all of us – because each and every one of us leads at least one team, small or large, of people in our lives – need to develop and have as part of the core of who we are and what we are. In essence, this trait is at the center of exemplary character and conduct, and none of us should settle for anything less than this in ourselves and others.

Unfortunately, most of us settle for less. A lot less. In ourselves. In others. 

The majority of people in leadership positions today are not trust builders and they are not trustworthy. Many of us, frankly, are also not trust builders and trustworthy.

We live in a world that with no moral code as its foundation that expects trust to be non-existent or broken. Look around. It’s everywhere, including, in many cases, very close to you.

And society has become so accustomed to this that it glorifies it instead of condemning it.

Politicians who lie routinely, who line their pockets with money and perks while making decisions that hurt and destroy the people they are supposed to represent, who cheat on their wives because they can.

Arts and sports celebrities who have no regard for faithfulness to their spouses, who live hedonistic lifestyles that destroy their families, the people around them, and, eventually their lives.

Religious leaders who cheat on their wives, who cheat on their taxes, and who scam their congregations both in how they deceitfully handle the word of God and in coercive and corrupt financial matters, acquiring wealth and power in the process.

Business leaders who destroy millions of lives by deceit, fraud, and illegal actions that result in their employees and customers losing everything while they escape any kind of punitive action and instead reap obscene profits and end their tenures – only to go to another financially lucrative position – with golden parachutes that are equally obscene.

And we, as individual leaders for our teams, who cheat on our taxes, who are routinely dishonest with the children (our own and others) and other people entrusted to us, who routinely steal things from our workplaces (you most likely didn’t pay for that pen you’re using at work, so it doesn’t belong to you), who routinely break traffic laws, who will walk out of stores with something we were not charged for and never think twice about it, who will take extra money that we’re not owed in financial transactions without blinking an eye, who cheat on our spouses, who marry until “divorce do us part,” and who, as a course of habit, break confidences of family and friends, gossip about family and friends behind their backs, and destroy reputations in the process.

Maybe we haven’t thought about building trust and being trustworthy at this kind of nitty gritty level.

But until we do – and we develop and have this trait as the core of who and what we are – we will not build trust and we will not be trustworthy. And we will not be quintessential leaders.

Trust and trustworthiness is probably the single most important trait we can possess. And it is also the most fragile.

It can take a long time to build and be, but it can be broken irreparably in a single second.

Therefore, this is a lifetime work on and in ourselves that we must commit to making an integral part of our character by continually developing it, maintaining it, and growing it. 

This goal should be our goal.

But it requires courage. It requires diligence. It requires vigilance. It requires continual self-examination. It requires continual change. It requires the ability to, much of the time, stand alone to maintain.

It is not for the faint-hearted. It is not for the vacillators. It is not for the crowd-pleasers. It is not for the pretenders. It is not for the wannabes. It is not for the weak.

But if you’re reading this, I know that you’re not any of those kinds of people. Those kinds of people won’t even read this because it requires time, effort, change, and commitment, and too many of us are, sadly, either just too lazy or we just don’t care. 

Building Trust and Being Trustworthy takes an in-depth look at the “this is what it looks like in practice” aspect of each of the components we need to develop and have to build trust and be trustworthy. The second chapter discusses the component of honesty in building trust and being trustworthy.


Excerpt from”Chapter 6: The Accountability Component of Trust and Trustworthiness”

In this chapter we’ll show the aspects that encompass accountability and I believe it will become apparent when we review those that there is a serious lack of quintessential leadership in all walks of life today. But as we strive to be quintessential leaders, we will see that the component of accountability is one that must be part of who and what we are in order to build trust and be trustworthy.

What does accountability entail and how does accountability get measured in terms of quintessential leadership? Merriam-Webster defines accountability as “an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility” or “to account for one’s actions.” Being obligated and being willing are both attributes of character and mindset, which are crucial areas of distinction that make quintessential leaders stand out from everyone else. 

Obligation is rarely found in organizational thinking today and in many ways it reflects the larger lack of a sense of obligation reflected in society.

Instead of recognition and actions that reflect that recognition of what we owe others, society, in general, has adopted an entitlement mindset that says “I owe nothing, but everyone else owes me.”

This is reflected in the “I deserve” and “my rights” attitudes that are prevalent in every part of life – home, family, school, extracurricular activities, religion, and work – today. 

Obligation, by definition, is not negotiable. It is an integral and driving force in who we are, what we do, what we say, and how we think. Quintessential leaders know and understand their obligations and strive to fulfill them in every part of their lives and that includes the area of accountability.

Willingness is another character and mindset attribute of a quintessential leader.

Even if people know they should (obligation) do something, but they don’t do it, then they lack the quality of willingness. There is a proverb that says the road to hell is paved with good intentions. This speaks directly to knowing we should do something, but being unwilling, whether by procrastination, slothfulness, or lack of desire, to do what we know we should do. 

So, as quintessential leaders, we know we should and are willing to be accountable for everything within our control. What does that exactly mean? What does it look like in practice?

Mike Myatt, in his article, “Leadership is Not Dodgeball,” gives a big-picture summary in his title.

We all remember playing dodge ball in elementary school. The object of the game was to avoid being hit by the ball if you were in the middle of the circle and it required running, jumping out of the way, ducking, and occasionally pushing other people in the path of the ball.

And for the most part, we see people in leadership positions doing these same maneuvers in terms of accountability in negative situations (these are also the first people to take full credit and accountability in positive situations).

One of the most common responses of most people in leadership positions today, across the human spectrum of organizational units and constructs when problems, issues, and mistakes happen is to simply run away – to distance themselves personally as far from the negative events as possible. This is out and out cowardice and not a quintessential leader trait.”

key component of quintessential leadershipI recently heard a discussion that contrasted the way God and Jesus Christ interact with humanity now (the terms “hands off” and “choice” – or free will – were used interchangeably) and the way the Bible says they will interact with humanity in the future (the term “hands on” was used).

Words are important. The way we construct and present words to present ideas are important. And the way we define relationships (such as similarity and contrasts) with words is important.

Equally important is whether we listen, how we listen, and whether we are critically thinking about what we hear or we just accept it at face value as being accurate.

Quintessential leaders pay very close attention to both sides of this equation at all times.

Therefore, for example, if someone sets up a contrast, then they present two opposite things. If  interchangeable words are used on one side of the contrast, then there are, either expressly stated or implied, interchangeable words on the other side of the contrast. Since it’s a contrast, the words (stated or implied) on each side are opposites of each other.

So, in the discussion I talked about above, if “hand’s off” equals “choice” (which was expressly stated) then, in contrast, “hand’s on” implicitly equals “no choice.” And the lack of choice equals force.

But is that true?

Is it accurate?

And is it consistent with the written record we have that shows how God and Jesus Christ (whom we are repeatedly assured are consistent, don’t lie, and have the same character and characteristics forever) have interacted with humanity, who they created, from the beginning?

The answer is “no.” While I could go to many places in the Bible to prove this, I will use the first example I immediately thought about to refute this, which is in Genesis 4:3-7.

The conversation (and I have no doubt it was a lengthy one but we just see the summary here) between the Lord and Cain shows explicitly how God and Jesus Christ lead humans and what that relationship has looked like, looks like, and will always look like.

The Lord (I AM in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New Testament) had the ability to force Cain to do the right thing. But He didn’t do that.

Instead, He laid out the big picture of the framework within which Cain had to operate. He educated Cain on the options he had and what the consequences of executing those options were. Then He coached Cain on which option would lead to a successful outcome.

But Cain had to choose which option he wanted to pursue. Why?

force unquintessential leadershipForce can get the results a leader wants, but while force may win the battle, it loses the war.

A person who is forced to do something, whether by fear, intimidation, coercion, or bullying, is passively participating, but they have no investment, no commitment, no heart, soul, and mind conviction behind their actions. 

Using force puts all the accountability and responsibility on the shoulders of the person exerting the force.

Finally, force requires a total shutdown of logic, reasoning, and critical thinking (all attributes that humans were created with and are expected to use). Essentially, force creates rote action accompanied by suspension of all the unique elements of our brains and our consciences that make us human. 

In other words, force creates the same superficial and unknowing conditioned responses in humans that Pavlov’s famous experiments created in dogs.

choice quintessential leadershipWhen choices are presented, on the other hand, they require active participation on the part of the people they are presented to. Choices carry responsibility and accountability, and they require logic, reasoning, critical thinking, and action.

Not all choices carry the same weight and, therefore, may not require a total heart, soul, and mind investment and commitment (for example, choosing between eggs and toast or cereal for breakfast), but all choices, when they are executed, have some level of investment and commitment.

Choices also create a partnership between leaders and their teams. There are obligations on both sides and there are rewards on both sides. One of the greatest rewards can be growth as good choices are made that lead to greater progress and productivity, resulting in successful outcomes for everyone.

Even bad choices serve a vital purpose. They help us to learn what not to do the next time. As we deal with the accountability and responsibility of the consequences of bad choices, it spurs us to critically think about what we did that led to those consequences and to think about what we will change in the future to produce different – and, hopefully, better – results.

God and Jesus Christ are the epitomes of quintessential leadership and the models we as human quintessential leaders strive to perfectly and totally emulate in who we are, what we are, how we are, and how we lead.

So, choice or force: which is quintessential leadership?

I’ve often said that quintessential leadership is an art. It can be learned by anyone, but some of us are more naturally inclined by personality, temperament, perspective, and experience to being quintessential leaders. For us, it’s an extension of who and what we are.

For those to whom this doesn’t come naturally, it’s hard work a lot of the time. But, no matter how we’re naturally constructed, this is not impossible work for anyone.

Whether we become quintessential leaders depends on whether we want to be and whether we’re committed to it no matter what and we diligently apply and grow in that commitment, with the evidence of that clearly visible in who and what we’re becoming.

So let’s talk about a few tangible ways that quintessential leaders think and do differently from others. I will be identifying and discussing these from time to time and today’s post is the first discussion.

All of these should be things that each of us looks at in our own leadership mirrors to see how much we’re reflecting them. If the reflection is clear, then we need to continue to keep that clear. If it’s dim or absent, then we’ve still got a lot of work to do.

Spoiler alert: we all still have a lot of work to do. None of us are perfect at any of these all the time.

However, these are a few of the baseline benchmarks against which we should routinely measure, in-depth, how our journey to quintessential leadership is going: where we’ve been, where we are, and where we need to go. (more…)

As is usual when I’m writing about a person who’s involved in politics, I will continue to say first that I eschew and hate politics of any kind – governmental, organizational, personal – because politics, by its very nature and at its very core, is both corrupt and corrupting. Politics is self-serving, dishonest, manipulative, and driven by greed and a desire for power. This is universally true. There are no exceptions.

Politics and quintessential leadership are, therefore, incompatible.

This post is not about politics. Any feedback that tries to bring that subject into the discussion will be ignored with the upfront advice that the trolls and hijackers go somewhere else to spew and vent your venom.

This post is instead about a person in a leadership position who is at the crossroads of determining whether he will be a quintessential leader or not. It’s a place that all of us in leadership positions come to at some point, although, fortunately, most of us don’t have to go through the process on a national stage under the intense fishbowl scrutiny of 370,000,000 other people. (more…)

It is easy to distinguish quintessential leaders from unquintessential leaders by the way they deal with the pressure of a crisis or crises. 

Below I will give a short list of characteristics that quintessential and unquintessential leaders do when a crisis or crises arise.

Each of you who reads this has a two-fold assignment. First, as always, look at your own leadership characteristics in a crisis or crises and see which leadership style you, in general, fall under. The second assignment is that if you read this, I want you to give me input, via a comment, with an additional characteristic for both quintessential and unquintessential leaders’ crisis-management styles.

I’m going to move, for the most part, to shorter blog posts of this interactive format, because if you’re reading this, you have information to share with me and to share with the other readers of this blog, and I want to encourage us to communicate with and help each other grow as quintessential leaders.

quintessential leader crisis crisesSome of the characteristics of an unquintessential leader in a crisis are:

  • Pretend it doesn’t or deny that it does exist
  • Ignore it
  • Avoid it
  • Procrastinate doing anything about it
  • Blame it on someone else
  • Make it someone else’s crisis

Some of the characteristics of a quintessential leader in a crisis are:

  • Acknowledge it
  • Tackle it quickly and honestly (this means the quintessential leader expects and is prepared for a crisis)
  • Take responsibility
  • Be accountable for resolving it

Obviously, these are not comprehensive lists. Now it’s your turn to contribute with a characteristic for each type of leader in a crisis.

What can you to add to these lists?