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The Credibility of Leaders

Here in the UK, we have been reading for weeks now about the amount of money our Members of Parliament (MP's), have been taking from the public purse to pay for their expenses. Extraordinary though it now sounds, this information had been kept secret by the MP's until they were forced by law to reveal it.

Many of the claims for expenses were clearly extravagant and undoubtedly made because the public were not expected to find out about them. One of the depressing parts of the saga is that many of the MP's claim they were within the rules (which they devised themselves) or tried to justify themselves through the use of spin and their well-honed art of deceptive communication.

Leader Credibility Is Leadership Gold

On the Leadership Skills courses that we run at ManageTrainLearn, we devote a fair bit of time to the credibility of leaders, on the grounds that when a leader's credibility goes, so does their moral right to lead. Under the heading of "credibility", we look at all those associated attributes such as honesty, integrity, ethics, candour, service, and authenticity. When these disappear, all a leader has left are the trappings of leadership such as the use of spin and deceptive communication.

Be the Leader Your Employees Deserve

There is a story that I love that comes from Ken Lloyd in his book "Be the Boss Your Employees Deserve". This is how it goes.

Two businessmen, one single and one married, formed a partnership and amassed a fortune of 200 gold pieces.

The married partner, however, fell ill and, as they had not decided on how the 200 gold pieces would be split, told his partner, "If I should die, give my wife whatever you want."

The married partner died and so the remaining partner went to the widow and gave her just one gold piece keeping the remaining 199 for himself.

The widow, knowing her husband to have been wise, caring, and honest, decided that this was not what he would have wanted and went to a wise man to ask how the money should be split up.

The wise man called in the remaining partner and heard what had been agreed. After much deliberation, the wise man told the greedy partner, "Give the widow 199 pieces of gold and keep one for yourself."

Incensed, the partner protested that he had followed the spoken agreement to give the widow whatever he wanted and so was "within the rules".

"Why should I give her the 199 pieces?" he demanded.

"Because they're exactly what you "want"," replied the wise man.

Oh for a wise man now for a class of discredited leaders.