Absent integrity, there can be no leadership.
This is a post about political correctness. PC as it’s known has been so important that it almost seems more important than honesty and integrity. It’s “better” I’m told, to tell a little white lie than to risk offending someone.
That’s a load of you know what. That’s the kind of nonsense that weak, lazy leaders say to keep from dealing with real issues. It’s the kind of silliness that lets people think they are doing better than they are right up until the time they are told they are fired.
I remember doing some work with one of the top MBA schools in the country. I taught a day-long sales training program and then these very bright students worked as teams to prepare sales presentations based on the content of my day long session.
A team of marketing and sales executives from Fortune 500 companies was assembled to judge and rate each team’s presentation. As the judges were discussing the presentations one of the professors from the business school stopped by to see how things were going.
The executives told him some of the students were exceptional and some, not so much. On a scale of one to ten some would receive 9’s and 10’s and others only a 5 or 6. The professor was upset by the low scores and urged the executives to raise the scores. He explained that the students were the “best and the brightest” and they would not be able to handle a mediocre score.
I remember one of the executives from 3M telling him that it would be better to learn from a “5” here than out in the “real world” where the low score would truly be costly. He then said the scores would stand.
When we were all gathered back in the main auditorium the professor stated that the students should accept the scores “with a grain of salt” because the executives just “don’t know how we do things here.”
The school was so concerned about “offending” the students that they deemed it better to send them out into the business world thinking they were awesome rather than with realistic expectations as to their skill level.
That’s what it’s come to. Rather than risk offending, we lie. We shade the truth. We tell ourselves “we’re protecting someone”.
That’s not leadership.
If you’re going to build tomorrow’s leaders you’re going to have to put the PC junk away. You need to start using good old fashioned Human Relations Skills and tact to tell the truth. You need to tell it in such as way that the person can accept it in the caring fashion that you intended it.
YOU need to find the courage to lead. You need to risk offending someone to help them. You need to risk that they might take it wrong in order to do what’s right. You need to decide that integrity and honesty are more important than Political Correctness.
You need to lead!