Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How to recognize moral leaders

Last night in my Organizational Behavior class, we finished up our discussion of leadership. I am passionate about leadership, and I love teaching it, but I honestly think it is difficult for the majority of my younger students to fully appreciate how critical a proper perspective on leadership will be to their future professional and personal lives. I am of course biased, but leadership is not just another topic in the book. In all fairness, many of the older and more experienced adults I encounter also, in my opinion, lack a proper perspective on leadership.

The following quote from James MacGregor Burns comes toward the end of my presentation on leadership.

“The true test of moral legitimacy is grounded in conscious choice among real
alternatives. One way to recognize moral leaders and to guard against immoral ones is to observe if they engage in learning the true needs and values of their constituents. If they are more intent on telling than on listening, it is likely that they are up to no good.” (James MacGregor Burns, 1978)

If your leader is more intent on telling than listening, they are likely up to no good – you can take that to the bank. Well, that’s not entirely accurate; they are up to some good – their own good and not yours.

If your leader does not take the time to listen to you, for whatever reason they simply don’t care about you. And just to be clear, that is NOT a good thing. Your leader may already be manipulating you for their own self-interest. If that has not happened yet, get ready, because at some point it probably will.

Why would you want to work for someone like that? Ok, so times are tough and jobs are hard to come by, and you feel lucky to have the job you have. Just don’t use that as an excuse to rationalize your compromise with mediocrity. Start looking – now – and keep looking until you find a company that will treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

Don’t waste any more time that you have to working for idiots and assholes. Move on.

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