In a world that is rapidly changing and experiencing dramatic technological leaps frequently, what gives a leader staying power to weather these fluctuations and succeed in the long term? Many will say it is moral leadership, a rare ability to bridge decision making with its effects on colleagues, community and the organization itself. Here are some gathered thoughts among CEOs, including management at ILC, on what leadership skills make a moral leader:
- Moral leaders stay true to purpose
Disney’s purpose is “To make dreams come true.” For CVS, it’s “Helping people on their path to better health.” Leaders who exude true authority stick to such purposes that are noble and valuable for the betterment and progress of the world. The higher the bar, the more it encourages and brings out commitment, dedication and hope in people. A true leader pursues a purpose that is bigger then themselves and one that allows for others to join in and share their quest. They see the path as a journey and take their followers along while keeping focus on progess, bettering their own resilience and work ethic and even challenging their observance of faith and hope. Whatever the shape of their journey, whether strong and steady, up and down, even during economic times of regression, they learn from their mistakes and failures and carry forward. The ability to carry on, comes from their moral fortitude, or how they maintain faith, truth and the will to make things right.
- Moral leaders keep growing
Any true leader will tell you they never stop learning or growing, and this is not restricted to skills and tasks at work. This is more about growing their moral muscle. They welcome the opportunity time and again to fight on justice, good and bad, working for the greater good. They take wisdom where they can from others and constantly wrestle with what impact their actions will have on others. Some lessons are harder than others. Saying sorry, fixing mistakes, changing strategy, taking ownership of misguided results. True leaders do not shy from the heavy responsibilities and burdens that come with challenging themselves. They reflect, work on their awareness, and build on their knowledge which they share with their organization.
- Moral leaders see their employees as fellow journeyers
A remarkable characteristic of a true leader is their desire to inspire and obtain the best out of their employees. Some things can be demanded such as honesty and timeliness. But how do they bring out the characteristics that cannot be demanded such as loyalty, hope and empathy? It begins with their perspective, or how they see their employee. Not as someone who takes direct orders, but a fellow journeyer. A moral leader shares decisions and dreams with consideration of the other person’s humanity. Because they are inclusive in this way, communication, knowledge sharing and talent utilization is improved and their employees are far more engaging on personal as well as organizational matters.
- Moral leaders know courage and patience
How many times have you done the right thing because it was expected? How many times have you focused on doing the right thing? This subtle yet defining difference makes a moral leader. They pull upon their courage to speak out, or stand for principle, to make sure they are always seeking the right thing. And they will dig to deep depths if needed because they understand that business is about human endeavour. And they can support it with enough patience to allow for long term results. They do not succumb to time pressures or instant gratification from decisions that they know may only yield positive outcomes later down the line.
No matter how tough things get, moral leaders keep perspective. They thrive on improving themselves and the world around them and sharing the journey with others. They believe that a company’s purpose is never full achieved. Rather than something to check off on a to do list, it is a guiding compass, and a true leader embraces this in their daily decisions and actions.