April 2, 2011
Topicscharacter-based leader, charismatic leader, lead change, leadership oath
This is a popular post at our Achieved Strategies blog. We wanted to share it with all Lead Change readers. We love to hear your reaction in the comments below.
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.
Shawn, this is absolutely awesome!
Of course, this is my favorite part: “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’m going to promote this all over the place!
So good to meet you last week!
So glad to reconnect with you. Though I admit meeting eyeball to eyeball is so much better.
Let me know how people respond to the content and idea of a Leadership Oath.
Shawn – This is a fantastic concept, and one I wish all leaders were required to take – along with being certified as a leader. Perhaps too much rigor, that certification, but would require that they had given the concept of what it means to be a leader some thought.
I particularly like this phrase: 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.
Something we should all strive for, whether in leadership or otherwise. We are not always right!
Great post, Georgia
You’ve highlighted one of my favorite points AND area to work with individuals and teams – blindspots! It can be painful in the moment to have a blindspot revealed, but the long term impact is far more valuable then temporary discomfort.
I do appreciate your support for this topic. I agree, too, that more rigor around leadership is needed. Perhaps rigor similar to that of being a coach. Anyone can be a coach, but those who submit to a certification (inquiry and evaluation) are certified. Heck, what’s wrong with adding a few more letters at the end of our names, right? I’d submit myself for such a process if it meant letting clients and potential clients know the quality they are hiring.
Thank you for your support,
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