Blog: Getting smart with Leadership: Time to celebrate honesty

“Honesty and integrity are absolutely essential for success in life honestya16– all areas of life. The really good news is that anyone can develop both honesty and integrity.” Zig Ziglar

What do you imagine in your mind when you think of what qualities are needed to be a leader? Well I can tell what I have always imagined. Someone who has the skill to be always objective and not clouded by emotion; that can be detached. Someone who does not use empathy as a key element of business, or at least does not demonstrate using ‘affective empathy’, (the kind that allows someone to respond appropriately when they have understood another world). Someone who is so committed and sure of the work they do, they are unfaltering in their execution of it, staying detached from consequences to others. Someone who is very confident and not analysing their decisions and emotions. In a tough, unemotional business world, you have to be like this to compete.  Oh boy, was I in trouble if I am to run my own own business, as these are attributes that I felt that I did not possess in any dominant form.

I am someone who has been governed by empathy, self-development and often what felt like the naïvety of  honesty for as long as I remember. This included being brutally honest with myself and often struggling to tolerate lack of honesty from others. But since embarking on my own training business and since understanding more acutely my purpose, my vision, how it is to be developed and how to make it successful and fulfilling, I have realised I was wrong in the image I had of a leader. What I had in my mind may have been a boss, but not a leader. I have started to realise that they are quite different. I had very preconceived belief systems, no doubt to do with my gender, age, upbringing and life experiences thus far.

On my journey, the great news for me has been that being a leader and indeed a smart leader possesses qualities and attitudes of honesty, empathy, motivation, kindness, honesty, vision, empowerment of self and of others and creativity. In fact James Kouzes and Barry Posner, who wrote The Leadership Challenge, state that being honest is a fundamental component of the 5 behaviours that are necessary for a good leader.

Working so much around the Duty of Candour which is focused on honesty, transparency and openness being a now statutory requirement within healthcare, this interests me greatly. With using honest, emotional reactions within the training our company delivers, we endeavour to emulate what we train – empathy and honesty. I find the fact the honesty is classed as a good attribute of a smart, strong leader, very motivating and reassuring.

In a survey (The Leadership Practices Inventory) carried out by Kousez and Posner over 20 years and asking over 75,000 people the seven top things people would admire and willingly to follow. Honesty came out top of the list. From this The Leadership challenge was created.

I know now that I have no yearning to be a boss, I wish to be a leader. Starting with being a smart leader of myself and celebrating my ‘naive’ honesty that is not so naive after all!

Kousez and Posner’s Model of Leadership 5 key practices:

Model the Way
Leaders establish principles concerning the way people should be treated and the way goals should be pursued.

Inspire a Shared Vision
Leaders passionately believe that they can make a difference.They breathe life into their visions and get people to see exciting possibilities for the future.

Challenge the Process
Leaders search for opportunities to change the status quo. They look for innovative ways to improve the organization

Enable Others to Act
Leaders foster collaboration and build spirited teams…they strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity

Encourage the Heart
Accomplishing extraordinary things in organizations is hard work. To keep hope and determination alive, leaders recognize contributions that individuals make. I They make people feel like heroes.

Original Source:

Read more about about me and my business partner Vanessa and the work we do here.


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