“It’s not hard to do the right thing; in fact it’s easy. What’s hard is knowing what the right thing to do is. Once you know that, and believe it, doing the right thing is easy.”
Ben Kingsley in the Confession
At work and at home I face a tons of decisions every day. Some are easy; some are hard. At times, there is no “good” or “ideal” decision—just the better of two that are either painful, or wrong. I often find myself becalmed, at points I struggle with inertia because not doing is often easier than doing, especially when the doing may not have wholly positive results. The fact is sometimes we have to do stuff that just isn’t nice. The key at that point is to stick to our principles. If we know it is the ‘right thing’ to do then we just have to do it. At the moment I have some really hard choices to make some that challenge my values and principles none of them are easy. It makes the stepping through the door really hard. They are often out of my comfort zone. I do know however that they need to be done.
Stephen Covey described “personality-based leaders,” who were preoccupied with “looking good” (in hopes of being liked) instead of “doing good.” These true leaders, he described as “principle-based leaders.” These leaders struggled to “know the right thing to do,” but then had the courage and integrity to “do the right thing”—even if it was unpopular at the time.
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” -Ralph Nader
My job is brilliant. Sometimes however you are challenged, you know the right thing to do but it doing it is really hard. Ultimately everything I do has an impact. Doing the right thing can be blummin’ hard. I get stuff wrong. I am not infallible. At that point you have to put your hands up and say your sorry.
Covey points out that a principled kind of leader is shown to have three characteristics that stand out: courage, character, and competence. It is these three characteristics that help them; that enable them; and that guide them in making the tough choices
I often find my self struggling. I struggle to figure out the “right thing to do.” At those moments I have to go back to my core, I have to run it through my own lens and do the thing that feels right. I seek advice, I am fortunate to have a network of wonderful headteachers, who are generous and let me work it out by asking just the right questions. I have a wonderful Deputy who will also ask me the right questions but ultimately I have to stand by my principles they fortunately make the decisions easy even when they are hard.
“Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50 percent of your time in leading yourself–your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20 percent leading those with authority over you and 15 percent leading your peers.”–Dee Hock
Leaders face this dilemma frequently, because in the imperfect real world, there are a lot of not-so-good choices, and few really good, clear and right ones. But leaders must decide. That is their job. Leaders don’t always get it right. Leadership seems to be on all of our minds at the moment. The Election and current political situation seems to have heightened this.
True leaders will not do the “wrong thing” just to be liked. Leaders must make the best available, “right” decision. Flip/flopping for approval is not leadership sticking by your principles and holding fast is. Being able to admit you got it wrong is leadership, blaming others when things go wrong is not.
Having listened to the rather wonderful @DavidMcQueen at Northern Rocks I was emboldened again to do the right thing. He was spot on the need for bravery in Leadership and also I’m a sucker for a cracking acronym
Leadership should be B.R.A.V.E. Great leadership advice.
As for everyone else, they have a decision about which kind of leader they want to follow, to vote for and elect, to support. Do you want the vain-glorious leader who always looks good, but cleverly avoids the tough decisions, (or make the wrong ones)? Or would you rather have a leader who struggles mightily evaluating what the “right thing to do” is, and then does it, no matter how difficult, how painful or how unpopular it might be.
“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” –John C. Maxwell
I’ve seen and worked with and for both kinds. I can pick them out to this day—good and bad. I know which kind I want to follow and be. How about you?
“Principle-centered leadership” by Stephen Covey published 1989