Question: How do you cultivate leaders who are values- rather than needs-driven, who act appropriately and who do the right thing?
Answer: For leaders to act appropriately and do the right thing in any situation requires them to see what the appropriate thing to do is and then to behave accordingly. Understanding what the right thing to do in the situation is an ABILITY issue. Actually doing the right thing, however, is a matter of the WILL. Sometimes what the right thing to do is, is blindingly obvious. In many instances, however, this is not the case. There are situations in the work context, and more broadly in life, which are complex and ambiguous. These situations are ones for which making the right call requires both insight and understanding. Exercising good JUDGEMENT in these situations is fortunately a skill which can be learned.
From experience, leaders can develop the skill to see what is appropriate in different situations by applying their minds to typical situations which arise in their organisation. When situations arise they need to engage in vigorous debate with other leaders before agreeing on what the right thing to do is. With enough practice it is possible for leaders in an organisation to calibrate their views and become aligned with each other in terms of the moral decisions facing them. There is no recipe for the right thing to do in every situation. Moral decisions call for judgement – the answer does not descend like tablets of stone from on high.
But once leaders are calibrated, and hence of common mind, then and only then are they seen to have integrity.
Ultimately however leaders will only actually do the right thing when they deliberately and consciously choose to do so. Our default position is to act on our needs. We duck, for example, when the gun goes off. Contradicting a need to do the right thing is in fact a matter of the will.
The factors enabling leaders to put values before needs are: