Most leadership rules are flexible and contingent. Like our rights under the Constitution, they can all be trumped by other rules, depending upon the circumstances. But there’s one principle that I have found as constant as the Pole Star, good in all weather and never to be broken. In a Machiavellian world it sounds naïve and almost childish, but genuine leaders know it and live by it: Do the right thing.
There are times when there is no right thing to do and you have to choose the least bad alternative. But in most cases, it’s clear which course will be the moral, ethical, honorable choice. That’s what you should do, and you do it.
Poor leadership is, unfortunately, not in short supply in organizations. There’s ample proof of that in today’s headlines about money squandered, opportunity lost, contracts bungled, risks mismanaged, and employees losing their jobs. But there are still plenty of leaders who are striving every day to do the right thing and to inspire their own people to emulate their winning ways. My hope is that you will be one of these leaders and turn your organization into a leadership engine.