Leaders Must Show They Care

Leaders must show they care. A leader is like a battalion commander who isn’t content to read the menus but insists on going into the mess hall to taste the food himself. Not only does he know more about what’s being fed to his subordinates, but he’s considered a better leader by his troops. – Peter Drucker.

Jim Rohn

The challenge of leadership is to be strong,

The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; & have humor but without folly.  – Jim Rohn

Notes to the Boss

Based on years of managing several organizations, including the Josephson Institute of Ethics, and on extensive consultation with large and small organizations, I’ve distilled much of what I believe and advocate into “Ten Truths.” I hope you find this list helpful. Feel free to share it with colleagues and friends. (Or print this mini-poster version of the list.)

Build Bridges That Others May Use

Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” In a world increasingly dominated by unapologetic selfishness,

Earning and Retaining Trust

– How does one earn trust? Let’s start with the basics: To be trusted, one has to be trustworthy. Trustworthiness, however, is a more complex concept than most people realize. It embodies four separate virtues: integrity, honesty, promise-keeping and loyalty. A failure in any one of these areas

CHRISTMAS IS MORE THAN A HOLIDAY, IT IS A PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE

COMMENTARY: Christmas – Christianity’s Gift to the World. Though I am Jewish, I have always loved Christmas and what is commonly called the Christmas Spirit. Of course, I don’t mean the crassly commercialized version of the Christmas Spirit that stresses consumerism, but the spirit of love, forgiveness, family, friendship and — remember this phrase? — “Peace on Earth and Good …

COMMENTARY: Tis the Season to be Jolly — Even While Shopping

People are not at their best in crowds. It’s as if every survival-of-the-fittest primordial instinct comes out to obliterate thousands of years of civilization. Pre-and post-holiday shopping, and the inevitable lines, test our character. My wife’s a professional shopper. She has strategies on where to park and how to find the fastest moving line (which I’ve discovered is not always …

COMMENTARY: The Missing Baby Jesus

In a lovely essay*, Jean Gietzen wrote about a family experience in 1943. It was just before Christmas in North Dakota and her family had just bought a nativity set with small figurines. But Jean’s mother was deeply disturbed to discover the set included an extra Baby Jesus. “Go back to the store,” she instructed, “and tell the manager to put …

COMMENTARY: 12 HARD-WON LIFE CHANGING INSIGHTS

Perhaps the only major advantage of getting older is the prospect of getting wiser. I think I’ve learned a great many things over the years but here are a dozen of my most treasured insights. I am still a work in process; that as long as I can think I can learn. I still have a lot to learn but if …

COMMENTARY: Leading by Inspiration

Leadership is not a matter of authority, it is a matter of influence. A true leader teaches others to understand more, motivates them to be more and inspire them to become more. – Michael Josephson. It seems

COMMENTARY: Thanking Your Parents on Thanksgiving

As we approach Thanksgiving Day, I hope you will think about your parents with your most gentle and generous thoughts and be thankful. Even if you didn’t have ideal parents or a perfect home life, if either or both of your parents are still with you, make an effort to experience and express genuine gratitude. It’s natural to take for granted what …

COMMENTARY: Don’t Brag, But Be Proud

Today, after winning a big game it’s common for athletes and fans to chant, “We’re number one,” in a classless display of self-praise that comes off as conceit and disrespectful taunting. I sometimes feel that way about materials praising America. Still, national pride is important. Reminders about the high principles on which this nation was based are essential to keep …

COMMENTARY: Ask What Can You Do for Your Country

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy, invoked my generation to “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” We are fortunate to live in a free and democratic society where millions of civilians and soldiers serve their fellow citizens.Today is Veteran’s Day and the weekend provided the nation a special …

COMMENTARY: Suitability Versus Capability

A critical maxim of management is: “Suitability is as important as capability.” Capability asks, “Can they do the job?” Suitability asks, “Are they right for the job?” If the job isn’t a good fit, it’s not a good job. Yes, an employee has to have (or be able to readily acquire) the skills and knowledge required for excellent job performance, …

COMMENTARY: Character Is an Essential Part of Competence

If you were hiring a new CEO, what are the most important qualities you’d look for? Surely you’d want a high level of demonstrated competence – knowledge, experience, intelligence, vision, communication, and relationship skills and the ability to motivate, manage, and solve problems. But what about qualities such as honesty, moral courage, accountability, and fairness? Despite bold rhetoric about the …

COMMENTARY: You Change One Thing, You Change Everything

Looking back on your life, what would you change if you could? In the classic 1939 film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the main character, a small town bank officer played by Jimmy Stewart, is about to commit suicide when an angel shows him how different the lives of people in Bedford Falls would’ve been if he hadn’t been born. The …

COMMENTARY: Nice Guys Finish First: Good Ethics Is Good Business

“Nice guys finish last.” This maxim originated with a fiercely competitive baseball manager named Leo Durocher who shamelessly advocated ruthlessness, cheating, and dirty play. It is also used to explain why sweet, thoughtful men lose out to self-centered jerks in the world of dating. Lots of people believe the philosophy applies in business as well. The rationale: nice is the same …

COMMENTARY: The Power of Kindness

I’ve mentioned before that, despite my great admiration for people who are instinctively and consistently kind, kindness does not come naturally to me. Yet the older I get, the more I agree with Abraham Heschel, who said, “When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.” Henry James was more emphatic when …

COMMENTARY: The Peculiar Concept of “Ethics Laws”

Cynicism about the ethics of elected officials may be at an all-time high, continually fueled by new stories of outright corruption or bad judgment. At every level of government there are politicians who can’t seem to recognize or resist conflicts of interest, inappropriate gifts, improper use of the power or property entrusted to them, or the discrediting impact of shameful …

COMMENTARY: Coach Wooden the Philosopher

According to Henry David Thoreau, a philosopher is a person who seeks to understand and solve the most serious problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically. A true philosopher, Thoreau added, is so committed to wisdom that he seeks to live wisely and so lives a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. By this definition, John Wooden, my …

“People of character do the right thing even if no one else does, not because they think it will change the world, but because they refuse to be changed by the world.”

“People of character do the right thing even if no one else does, not because they think it will change the world, but because they refuse to be changed by the world.” -Michael Josephson People who value their character above their comfort do not lead an easier life; they lead a better life. They pay a price when they choose …

COMMENTARY: A Manager’s Dilemma: Dealing With Misbehaving Top Performers

Managers prove themselves to be leaders when they do what is right, even when it costs more than they want to pay, because they understand that the cost of losing credibility and moral authority outweighs the benefits of expedient compromise. Just as the best athletes on a team often expect and get special treatment when it comes to violating rules …

COMMENTARY: Good Decisions Start With a Stop

More often than we like, most of us face choices that can have serious and lasting impact on our lives. Do we go along with the crowd? Do we tell someone off, quit a job, or end a relationship? Unfortunately, these decisions are not preceded by a drum roll warning us that the stakes are high. Even worse, we often …

COMMENTARY: Competition in the Arts

Competition often brings out the best performance but it doesn’t always bring out the best in people. Even in the arts, actors, singers, dancers, and musicians must survive and thrive in a competitive community as rude and rough as any. Ambitious parents often introduce toxic gamesmanship and back-biting attitudes very early as their children are judged and ranked by the …