Let’s be simple and powerful about this challenging topic. The question is, what can you do about the “person-in-authority” who acts more as the intimidating or manipulating bully than the uplifting leader.
Thoughtfully means clearly, accurately, persistently, frequently, respectfully and without insult.
Remind means to mirror back, inform, repeat to this person what they stated about their goals, commitments, and priorities.
Insist on acknowledgment, what and when means that you ask for the person to acknowledge the validity of his or her responsibility, and gain clarity about what the person will do to be in integrity and when they will do it.
So, to do this consequential communication, you must:
1. TAKE ACCURATE NOTES – Capture this person’s own words about values, mission, strategies, goals, rewards, critical objectives, and investments. These can be found in transcriptions of speeches, in the annual report, in updates to investors, analysts and the press. But, your own notes from telephone or in-person meetings will be most important.
2. MIRROR BACK – Speak up. Reflect this person’s responsibility, clearly and often, using his or her own words as precisely as you are able. Paraphrase, if necessary, but without anger or exaggeration.
3. CLARIFY THE EXPECTATION – Persist in gaining a clear understanding of what he or she will do to be in integrity with what they said, by when, and to what degree.
4. RECORD THE REVISED RESPONSIBILITY – If the person-in-authority needs to renegotiate or revise the responsibility, take accurate notes, then read the notes back to the person and ask if the notes are accurate. Do this until the person agrees on the accuracy of your understanding of her or his revised responsibility.
5. REPEAT THESE STEPS UNTIL COMPLETE – In the end, you will either be satisfied with the integrity and follow-thru of the person-in-authority – you may wish to refer to them as a leader, at that point – or you will have ample proof that it is time to find a new context for your courage and talents.
Clearly, waiting for someone else to insist on leadership integrity is not the solution. How do you think the Olympians prepared? There is a leader in you who knows how to do the right thing. If you need help, engage me. Now, stand up and get into the game!
PS: These steps are simple, yet they form a consequential communication that is rarely performed. The more corrupt and deceptive the “leader”, the more persistently it needs to be done. This will take discipline, courage, and skill on your part. Abolish the insult of “political correctness.”
PPS: If you are wondering why this whole topic is so pertinent, it is because there is a severe crisis of integrity in leadership today.
PPPS: If you are wondering why there is a crisis of integrity in leadership today, consider: (a) you are aware of the destructive materialism today that supersedes core human values, and yet despite this (b) the lack of leadership integrity and the distortion of materialism is enabled when each of us, individually, fails to insist that the person-in-authority have integrity. The answer is not in a C-Suite or a political party. The answer is leadership from every individual that insists on self-respect and human empathy in every context.