Many people have different ideas about what makes great business, great leadership, great influence.
Some base it on results, profit or success, but after working with top performers and leaders around the world I’ve found that there is one aspect, one trait that makes all the difference in the world.
It’s leading with a conscience.
When you lead with a conscience, you put your values first; doing what’s right goes at the top of the list.
Too often people make the error of mistaking data for wisdom, wealth for competence, logic for intelligence—and in the process values become inconsequential.
But operating without a conscience limits your influence over others, and even over yourself. When you operate without a clearly defined sense of ethics and morality, you will lose respect.
So what can you do to lead with your conscience?
Operate from the inside out. Strong leadership begins with learning your priorities and values—being able to articulate them and walk through their implications. No one can excel or succeed without knowing who they are and what they stand for.
Coordinate your brain, your mouth and your hands. When you’re working to make an impact on the world, people will be constantly evaluating the things you think, say and do. They will be watching you—and trust me, they will notice any inconsistencies between your beliefs, your words and your actions.
Be consistent. It’s easy to stray from your moral compass when you’re distracted, discouraged, disenchanted. But remember that those are the times you need your inner guidance the most—and the times that your example will be the strongest, for good or for ill.
Look for opportunities to exercise your values. Sometimes life and work provide ready-made opportunities to demonstrate your values. The rest of the time, seek them out—and encourage others on your team to do the same. Find appropriate ways to make resources available to causes and organizations that are dear to your team.
Keep everything in alignment. In reality, there’s no bright line between your personal values and your day-to-day work life. Make sure your policies, your expectations of yourself and others, and your support all reflect your individual conscience as much as they do current HR practices.
Close the gaps. There’s nothing worse than being in a place of power and being loud and wrong, brash and harsh, untrusted and destructive. If there’s any trace of such tendencies within yourself, work to close those gaps before they harm you further.
Our everyday behavior at work and at home is where our conscience lies, where our lives begin to matter.
Lead from within: At the end of the day, we don’t want to try to become people who are successful. We want to become people who have a conscience.
Learn more about running great teams in my National Bestseller book:
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- The Remarkable Power of the Truth Teller
- The Test Every Great Leader Must Pass
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.