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Our doctors take they Hippocratic Oath swearing to ethically treat their patients, and to follow an ideal conduct as a physician. In a conversation with a client, she casually suggested that leaders should take a Leadership Oath. Ethics and ideal conduct are not limited to physicians and are fitting for leaders. So what follows is a modified version of the Hippocratic Oath. As suggested by my client, what follows is my version of the Leadership Oath.
I present it to you for conversation.
I swear to fulfill to the best of my ability and judgment this covenant:
I will respect the hard-won leadership gains of those managers in whose step I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as well as mine to those who follow after me.
I will apply, for the benefit of my employees, community, and society, all measures that are required, avoiding those twin traps of control and absence of leadership.
I will remember that there is art to leadership as well as science, and that compassion, courage, and understanding employees’ ideas may outweigh the logic of balance sheets or strategic growth.
I will not be ashamed to say “ I don’t know,” nor will I fail to call upon experts when their skills are needed for employee and organizational success.
I recognize that my experiences create biases that limit my perspective; therefore, I will cultivate a culture of inquiry amongst my peers to invite others to help me see possibilities beyond my viewpoint.
I will respect the needs of my employees to grow as human beings, and do what I can to support their development in ways that help them better contribute to the organization and society.
I will respect the privacy of my employees. I will do what I can to support employees’ needs for work and life integration.
I will respect the need to support the growth and transformation of the organization. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of ethics and integrity. If it is given to me to “save the life” of an organization, I must call upon the two and act accordingly with all stakeholders. It may also be within my power to terminate employees; this awesome responsibility must be faced with humanity, humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not put myself before others.
I will prevent “organizational disease” whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to “cures.” I will remember that I remain a member of the community and of society, with special obligations to my fellow human beings, those who report to me as well as those who work and live nearby.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest actions and ways of being of leadership, and may I long experience the joy of being a leader.