Courageous leaders need more confidence in principles than in personalities. I was watching MSNBC where they had a town meeting at Columbia University with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett and one of the great questions that one of the students at Columbia asked Warren Buffett was this: can ethics be taught to leaders today in business? His response was very interesting, he said,” ethics come from the home, it doesn’t come from the classroom. Ethics and values are ingratiated into who we are from our beginning in whatever form our family took.” He then went on to say;” I really don’t think it can be taught; it just needs to be lived.”
If ethics is to be lived, in the corporate world and as a leader, you need to:
• Have high tolerance for ambiguity—lots of shades of gray in leadership today. Be willing, to have tolerance for ambiguity, exposure, and personal loss in order to have a community gain as well. What’s good for the majority rather than just what’s good for me.
• Have acceptance of deferred gratification, as a leader, in simple rewards. Leadership as you look at the news and etc, wants immediate gratification, I think that has to be earned in the long run by who and what we are and how we lead.
• Have independence of thought: we need to take into consideration what others have thought and done before us but you’re in charge, so how do we discern? Discernment is a phrase that needs to have more weight in leadership today. Discerning price to pay; discerning pros and cons; discerning what’s appropriate, what’s not; discerning what’s acceptable, what isn’t; discerning if it’s legal or not; That’s independence of thought. Take what has gone before us, see what we have, and how do we discern the lines between that connect them.
• Have formidable persistence and determination, values don’t fluctuate; they are a constant and that is the foundation for persistence and determination.