Why do leaders get into trouble?
Surely, there's enough for a book in that one question. Still, it's worth asking on an individual level. How do we as leaders avoid trouble? How do we stop ourselves from falling into our own self-shaped traps? There are pit falls just our size waiting for us, and very often we march right into them as if we were indestructible.
Like that skateboarder going down the hill in the center of a highway, forgetting that someone else might not see them.
Like that not-for-profit executive who makes a million dollars off of the donations of others. "But I'm doing good!" they exclaim.
Or, like that little lie we tell to prevent ourselves from an otherwise awkward moment of explaining why we didn't achieve a goal.
Awkward indeed. Our personal distortions, if we're not careful, get us into trouble. And when we are leaders our troubles become the troubles of others. Trouble yourself all you want, but please be careful of those who trust you.
It's easy enough to tell a leader "stay ethical." but that's not enough. We've got to define ethical. We've got to reach agreement on the rules, the nuances, and (gasp) the exceptions (because like it or not -- and I DON'T like it -- there are usually exceptions).
Considering an ethical system absolute is a common misunderstanding about ethics.
Self-selected ethics are seldom pure. Ethics change. How we respond to them is always individual.
Talk about the rules you are keeping, and then please, keep them.
-- doug smith
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