14 Apr Why being a “Boris Johnson” Type of Leader Can Ruin You
Aspire to be a “DO as I DO and as I SAY” type of leader instead of a “Do as a SAY, not as I DO” leader.
Not only is it important to follow your company rules and lead by example, but it’s vital to follow your own values without compromise. This is true when your doors are closed as well as open.
A large-scale faux pas such as putting an entire country under Covid restrictions, yet hosting large gatherings is not only hypocritical, it’s a slap in the face to your people. Boras Johnson and Gavin Newsom (California) were spreading the message that it’s ok to break the rules. At what point does the rule-breaking become anarchy?
On a smaller scale, if you’re not true to your own values and the company rules, how can you establish trust, community, and a sense of belonging? You can’t. It’s a bunch of smoke and mirrors that can ruin an organization and any personal relationships you hope to forge.
As I assist newly promoted leaders in mastering their added responsibilities and challenges so that they can get started on the right foot the right way, I urge them to practice consistency regardless of who’s watching. As leaders move from peer status to power status, their prior peers and newfound colleagues are watching for the smallest indiscretion and keep the newly promoted leader’s moves under the microscope to assess whether or not they can hack it as a trustful leader. Unfortunately, some peers and subordinates are also looking for ways to undermine the new leader. You can fool your bosses by kissing up but you rarely fool your peers and subordinates. If the newly promoted leader turns out to be a “Boris Johnson.” I guarantee the company won’t put up with it due to lower productivity and engagement, higher turnover, greater anxiety, and lower trust—all of which affect the bottom line.
Action steps to leading by example the right way:
- Practice integrity at all times: Our actions precede and proceed us thanks to the World Wide Web. Just as Boris Johnson and Gavin Newsom couldn’t get away with their Covid soirees, today’s newly promoted leaders shouldn’t try to cut corners on safety, say one thing and do another, or assume, at any time, that they are above the law that they implement.
- Expect the same from your colleagues: Reckless behavior, inconsistent character (Jekyll and Hyde), gossip in the workplace, favoritism, and tit-for-tat behaviors such as, “I tell you what your subordinates are saying if you keep me in the loop at your level,” are poisonous and can shatter an organization’s trust. If you see it happening; say something. The worst thing you can do is join in. Ignoring it can also pose a problem because what you permit, you promote.
- Keep your word and follow-through: Even a flippant, “Sure I’ll get back to you on that,” needs follow-up. Our words are our bond. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it. If you return even the smallest of favors and stick with your word, people will notice. Your Team will be grateful if you eliminate the annoyance of having to check back in, resend an email, make another phone call, or reschedule an appointment because you stick to your word.
Laura Colbert Consulting Programs:
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