The Most Desired Leadership Trait

How often have you said or heard the following statements said:

  • “Our leader is weak and has no vision.”
  • “Leaders only care about taking care of themselves.”
  • “Our school is weak because of the people at the top.”
  • “Attendance and giving are down at our church because of a lack of leadership.”
  • “If we had a better coach, our team would be winning.”
  • “The government is dysfunctional because they won’t do what is best for the rest of us.”
  • “This course would be better with a better teacher.”
  • “I wish I worked for a more effective boss.”

These comments are common because most people think there is a leadership crisis in the United States.  Even though confidence increased slightly from 2010 to 2012, for only the second time since the Center for Public Leadership began surveying public confidence in leadership in 2005, Americans’ confidence in their leaders rose in 2012. Compared to 2011, 9 percent more Americans believe that our leaders are effective and do a good job, and 7 percent fewer Americans believe the United States will decline as a nation unless we get better leaders.  While these modest gains are encouraging, The Center reminds us that these numbers should not distract us from the bigger picture. “Sixty-nine percent of Americans still believe we have a leadership crisis—8 percent lower than last year, but still very high.”

Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, co-authors of the classic book Leadership Challenge, have been conducting research for more than 25 years to identify which leadership qualities are most important for people in business and government.

They ask the following open-ended question:

“What values (personal traits or characteristics) do you look for and admire in your leader?”

Using a survey to over 75,000 people around the world, they get the same result year after year:  “honesty consistently ranks as the most desired leadership trait.  More than competence, intelligence, inspiration, or even vision, followers want a leader who tells the truth.”

Kouzes and Posner report that people will use the words “integrity” and “character” as synonymous with honesty.  Basically, we want to believe the people we follow if we are going to follow them!

So–why is this so tough for leaders to be honest?  To act with integrity?

I maintain much of the reason is because many leaders don’t understand the power of the ego and how it works in our life.  When we act in ways to protect our own egos, then it is harder to act in ways that are best for our followers and our organization.

One of the chapters in my new book, Leading with Wisdom, describes the power of the dark side of the ego.  In fact, I advocate ego development should be part of leadership development.  For more information, I am offering you to receive a discount on my book if you order until July 31st.

Click on THIS LINK:  Receive 15% off of this new ASTD Press release when you enter the code WISDOM15 before Wednesday, July 31st, 2013.  Discount applicable only on the paperback or digital version of Leading with Wisdom, until Wednesday, July 31st, 11:59pm EDT.

Thank you for reading my blog and for considering buying my book.  If you do read my book, please let me know what you think. 

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