Have you ever wondered why everyone wants to become a good leader but no one wants to become a good person?!
Without a doubt, you have seen one of the many articles, images and quotes about how to become a good leader. They are everywhere. All around us.
Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot of stuff about being a good person too. However, when we think about work and organisational life, we are being bombarded with how to become a good leader.
Could we be missing the point that to be a good leader you first have to be a good person?
Let’s explore this paradox.
Become A Good Leader Or A Good Person?
Everyone wants to become a good leader but no one wants to become a good person because it seems easier to concern yourself about being good if you are already successful in business. Being perceived as a good leader is an overt sign that you are a success. So, the conclusion is that if you can be a good leader first, then, you can easily become a good person. The truth is, it does not work like that, at all. But, with all the hype and exposure that “good leaders” get in the media, it is easy to believe that approach is the best one.
The rise of Social Media has provided us with on-site, real-time lenses. Through these lenses, we see “good leaders” regularly getting exposed because they lack integrity, personal ethics or good judgment or, they are simply not a “good person“.
In my role as an employee, (follower), I have had effective – and I would even say, excellent – managers and leaders whose personal lives were an utter mess. I would not have enjoyed being in their personal shoes.
When the reality of their personal situation was exposed, their influence and respect immediately plummeted. So did their power and control.
The reality is that good – great – leadership is not about leading OTHER people. Good leadership begins with leading yourself and your life. The foundation of good leadership IS being a GOOD PERSON.
Once you are able to cement that foundation, people naturally seek you out for insight, inspiration, know-how and, well . . . leadership.
Good leaders focus inward on themselves first and then look outwards to leverage that strength and become great leaders.
Why Do Some People Want To Be A Leader?
Let’s start here.
Why do you want to be a leader in the first place?
My conclusion is that many people want to be a leader for personal reasons. Mostly, is because of ego and status and wanting to have their worth validated by others. They are lacking self-esteem and self-confidence.
From an early age, society teaches us that we have to have a title to have self-worth. It is how we are forced to measure our success.
Just look at our education system and examine the rat race that we willingly throw our children into. We will send ourselves bankrupt just to get them into what society says is THE MOST prestigious school. If they are falling short of what is required, we will dig deeper to add lessons and whatever else is required to get them up to scratch.
Whether or not they are academically inclined, not yet ready or, worse yet, lack interest is irrelevant. We will drag them to the water and force them to drink, thirsty or not because society says that is how it should be.
The leaders are those who place first, become the Teachers’ pets or excel in other activities to bring fame and fortune to their school and parents.
That, of course, follows us into the workplace.
Only the brightest and the best are elevated to positions of leadership. You are expected to do whatever it takes to become one.
And many, MANY do, unfortunately.
So, What Does “Good” Really Mean?
Now that you understand the difference between being a “good leader” and a “good person“, let us put some context to what “good” really means.
As I have established, you should lay build your good leadership on a good person foundation. By that I mean, you should develop yourself as a good human being. become empathetic, kind to others, understanding, supportive and inspiring. Let who you are be what motivates and enables others to become better themselves.
Becoming congruent with your behaviours will lead you to live authentically. There will be no pretence or conflicted adjustment as you move from one role to the other.
The core of who you are will be consistent.
To be a leader, you must have followers. You must be able to influence people and provide them with a clear vision of what is possible for them to achieve their goals.
When you achieve that, your followers will define how much of a “good person” you truly are.
That should be your legacy.
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How Hard Is It To Be A “Good Person“?
The answer to this question may be the reason why everyone wants to become a good leader but no one wants to become a good person.
The hard truth is that being a “good person” in today’s world, may not be as easy as you would like it to be.
This quote by Bill Gates always resonates with me:
A few times in my career, I had to make some very tough decisions as a leader. Those decisions required me to stand strong and hold true to my personal ethics and morals.
On one occasion, in particular, I made the decision to walk away from a lucrative position as an Executive in one of my country’s major organisations. As a Vice President, I was privy to some very confidential things taking place that were not congruent with who I was as a person.
I walked away, to the surprise and admonition of many. Some even accused me of being the person who was driving the unethical behaviours.
I was not. My satisfaction came when I saw that the majority of people held me in such high regard as a person that they knew I was not involved in the corrupt practices taking place.
That decision, although challenging financially, mentally and emotionally was the impetus that brought me to where I am today. I am happily forging ahead, creating my life’s legacy on my terms and enjoying a lifestyle that many only dream of.
I sleep happily at night and I am an example to my daughter that you can be a “good person” and also a successful and “good leader.”
Closing Thoughts . . .
At the end of the day, the decision on the life path that you want to choose is yours and yours alone. You should not measure your life or pattern your decisions on what others do or want you to be.
You need to have a clear and defined vision and mission for your life. You are a brand just like any organisation or entity.
When people hear your name or see you, they should be able to understand what you stand for and what you represent. Your name should have meaning and it should positive, engaging and inspiring.
Be the change you want to see.
Be the role model for others to become good persons and good leaders. Then, and only then, will you become a part of the solution and not the problem.
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About The Author
Cassandra is a Management Consultant, Internationally qualified Facilitator, Coach, Strategist and Behaviour Change Agent. She enjoys travelling, exploring cultures and learning about historical and social networks and dynamics.
Her driving force is the education and development of her tween daughter. The roots of her inspiration to diversify her niche markets and the motivation to expand and scale her business investments rest firmly in this relationship.
This is the reason for creating her legacy.