Not to get all political, but it has been tough not to notice the ongoing stream of ethics issues and corruption emanating from the world of politics. From Charles Rangel in Congress, to the farce that it Rod Blagojevich and the state of Illinois and their string of incarcerated former governors. It is a sad commentary on the general state of our political “leaders”. Of real importance, it is a classic example in leadership – credibility is an absolute must in true leaders.
Charlie Rangel is the perfect example. The short story, and about all the story I have really cared to read, is that he has had some challenges when it comes to rules and laws, taxes and judgement. Ethics issues as they refer to it in the House. Here is a quote from the NY Post:
It found after an exhaustive two-year investigation that Rangel had a “pattern of indifference or disregard for the laws, rules and regulations of the United States and the House of Representatives.”
Clearly, the guy has some issues. Dare I say the rest of us would have more than an ethics committee to worry about if we had a “pattern of indifference or disregard for the laws, rules and regulations”. Maybe he is an elected official, but he is certainly not a leader. And sadly, his is not an isolated case, both within Congress or in politics at large.
We can step back and look at that other great story of the last several months, BP and the Gulf Oil Spill. With BP we see yet another leader who had lost credibility – Tony Hayward. He was the face of BP in the midst of the crisis; the face and voice that blazed a trail of PR gaffes that eroded his credibility both within the organization and in the eyes of the public as a whole. However, BP realized the issue and made a leadership change, appointing Bob Dudley as CEO. From the moment Dudley took over the leadership role in the Gulf, to his appointment as CEO, he has proven to be a credible, empathetic, and effective leader. He has instilled confidence in the organization and began to restore the public’s confidence in BP. Where Hayward lacked credibility, Dudley has it in spades.
The heart of the matter, and what we can really gain from all of this, other than confirmation of yet more “dirty” politicians, is that a leader must be credible. It is another of the age-old adages of leadership – people follow those that they believe in; they trust; they respect. When credibility is lost, the ability to lead is lost. Look to our current situation – the faith in the political “leaders” in the United States is at historic lows – justifiably so one could say. Yet BP makes a change in leadership and they are slowly earning back the confidence of the public and their employees. Interesting stuff credibility – it cannot be bought or traded, faked or trained – it has to be real and it has to earned.
Are your actions reinforcing your credibility as a leader, or are you eroding the faith and trust of your team, of your peers, of your friends and family? Credibility – it is such a simple thing to lose and such a simple thing to earn.