“Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy.”- Norman Schwarzkopf,
A leader wields an unusual degree of power to illuminate people’s lives or to create shadows in their existence. Yet so many live in darkness, because leadership stands in their light. Leaders allow their doubts, their lack of confidence, their fears and weaknesses to influence their beam of light. A leader has the responsibility to constantly reflect on his/her inner being, to be open in searching for their consciousness, lest the act of leadership create more harm than good.
With the privilege of leadership comes the burden to be ethical. Our actions should bring good rather than damage, our interactions should cast light and not shadows. When we assume the benefits of leadership, we also assume ethical burdens. Doing so will hugely reduce the possibilities that we will join the future ranks of fallen leaders.
Leaders are change agents with the responsibility of advancing their “followers” within their points of needs- the task of leadership is to create more leaders. Freedom of choice makes ethical reflections an integral part of any discussion of leadership. The killing wars manifested by a male lion that fights to take control of a pride cannot be labelled as unethical as they are driven by a genetic desire to start a bloodline. We can and do condemn the actions of leaders who decide to lie, belittle followers, and enrich themselves at the expense of the less fortunate.
Leaders must model, reflect and live the values of justice, humility,compassion and manifest wisdom in making their decisions, while at the same time being fully responsible for the ethical mannerism of their subordinates.
Weakness of attitude manifests as a weakness of character. Many unethical business decisions aren’t the product of greed or callousness but stem instead from widespread weaknesses within the internal belief systems and a weakened conviction of values. The leader must advocate as was the case with Johnson & Johnson Company, either a total commitment to, or an absolute elimination of values. We either live as believers or perish with indifference.
The challenge is yours, cast the light or intensify and broaden the shadows of darkness.