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The One Leadership Quality to Rule Them All

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The One Leadership Quality to Rule Them All

I just did a quick Google search on ‘Qualities of a Good Leader’. In 0.58 seconds, I had 854,000,000 results.

That’s a lot of qualities of a good leader! To be sure, the majority of those articles would cover the same themes. Here’s one example from an article titled, Strategic Leadership: The 5 Characteristics Of A Good Leader, that I found which listed:

  • Strong communication.
  • Passion and commitment.
  • Positivity.
  • Innovation.
  • Collaboration.

The ‘x’ qualities of a good leader.

All the articles I opened to look through had variations on these themes; all beautifully captured in this below word cloud.

There are a few items in this word cloud that appear in some articles, but by no means all:

  • Honesty.
  • Integrity.
  • Trust.

Somehow, we seem to have at least half-forgotten that these too are important leadership qualities.

Small Business – The collateral damage of unethical corporate behaviour.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or managed to get yourself to Mars, you couldn’t help but have heard about the antics of our largest financial institutions in Australia; unveiled by the Banking Royal Commission. Yes, we’ve known about it for quite some time, but there’s nothing like a Royal Commission to shine some daylight into dark corners.

I suspect that we, as Small Business owners, are disproportionately represented in the collateral damage of this corporate misbehaviour. I have no hard evidence for this but given that 94% of businesses in Australia are small and that all business owners will have an investment in these big companies through share portfolios and super funds; I think I’m on pretty safe ground.

There has been a degree of bleating in the financial media about how the Royal Commission will make it even harder for small to medium enterprises to access capital to fund their growth. I would argue that obtaining credit from a financial institution that has acted illegally or unethically in providing that credit, is no help to Small Business. In fact, quite the opposite.

It’s time to call foul.

Therefore, I think that we small to medium enterprise owners are perfectly entitled to call foul. Unethical behaviour at the top of our major corporations damages us; as business owners and as shareholders. It undermines the trust that is needed for small companies and big business to work together for mutual benefit.

Unfortunately, such bad behaviour isn’t limited to our own shores. Audi’s (the car maker) CEO Rupert Stadler, has been arrested following the scandal surrounding Volkswagen’s cheating on vehicle emissions testing and reporting. Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has been charged for his alleged part in the emissions scandal. Take a few minutes some time to read what happened at Volkswagen. It’s staggering.

And then there was the Global Financial Crisis of the late 2000’s, which resulted in the demise of hundreds of thousands of Small Businesses across the globe. Unfortunately, some of our friends in other countries were numbered amongst them, even though their own businesses were well-run. At the very root of this near-death experience for the entire financial system, was unscrupulous lending.

The one quality of a good leader we mustn’t forget.

In, TheLord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien, there is ‘one ring to rule them all’. The other rings created were powerful in themselves, but the ‘one ring’ was able to rule and control all.

My thesis is that there is ‘one quality of a good leader to rule them all’. It is more powerful than all the other qualities identified, talked about and taught; don’t be an unethical jerk!

Time and time again, unethical behaviour at the top of Government, business, churches, not for profit organisations etc., is brought under the microscope. There is a great rustling of newspapers and headlines, a few resignations by sacrificial lambs, followed by a flurry of regulation.

Then there is silence; until the next time.

I know that it can be beyond scary to call out a large organisation for bad behaviour. Your contract or even the very survival of your business may depend on your keeping it under wraps. But where we possibly can, it’s important for us to speak up. In any case, the very minimum you can do is model the correct behaviour in your own business.

Embrace the ‘one leadership quality to rule them all’, and don’t be an unethical jerk.

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