Leadership is a choice we all have to make

In some circumstances we find ourselves in as professionals - it would be easier to turn a blind eye to what we see.  The pressures of the workplace and obligations we navigate around right and wrong can cause our moral landscape to devolve into shades of grey.  Black and white not longer apply when we are justifying being "ok" with moral compromise.

Leadership in it's many forms is at it's heart the refusal to walk away from our moral compass in favor of an easier way. 

There are moments in every professional's career when we are asked by our moral voice to swim against the crowd.  If it were easy to make that decision we wouldn't find ourselves in the position of being the opposition with perspectives that aren't valued by others.  John Maxwell in his book "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" identifies that leaders pay a cost for their position.  The cost of "blowing the whistle" on injustice, dishonesty and corruption can be very high.  In some cases it may cost you a job, a friendship, a promotion, or recognition.

Are the costs of leadership something you are willing to pay?

I have always warned my clients to expect friendly fire.  When you take a stand about something within your organization that is based on what you believe to be just and honest you can expect that in the short term you will not be met with warm/fuzzy acceptance.  In fact the reception you receive may be downright cold.  People may withhold a multitude of positive outcomes in hopes that you will become more compliant to the party line.  Be prepared to accept that the cost to you may be very high.

When you face the options of complying to dishonest work practices and unjust decisions or taking a stand based on your desire to treat people with integrity there are some important tips to keep in mind:

  1. Take a minute and think- make sure that your objection is based on sound reasoning and not a knee-jerk reaction to something you just don't like.  If you can't ensure in your gut that what you are sensing is in line with your ethics at their foundation then your rebuttal to what is being done will come across as righteous indignation and no one will take you seriously.
  2. Choose your words- leaders do not move to embarrass or belittle.  You might see an action as clearly unethical but your words should communicate a desire to help move things into a positive direction rather than condemn.  When you can present your perspective in a way that inspires change- you have lead with integrity.
  3. Listen for competing and conflicting goals- often decisions that land in the "grey" are made because the person making them felt they had to compromise.  When your ethical radar is screaming at you- quite that noise and listen for what the dilemma was in the first place.  If you can't hear the issues being faced you can't propose a solution.
  4. Moral imagination can bring you a solution- professionals often feel that they are between a rock and a hard place and really have no choice about the structures and expectations placed on them.  Moral imagination can lead you to redefine the issues in such a way that you find ways of addressing impossible problems that have never been done before.  Imagine new definitions, boundaries and opportunities and make them happen. (more on this in other posts!)

We will always be faced with situations where we could compromise one piece to favor another.  We could stick to convention instead of innovating and we dishonor ourselves and those around us in the process.  True leadership equips people to make the tough decisions they face with authenticity and integrity.  It's a choice we all have to make.

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Being Comfortable is a Career Killer

It's a satisfying experience to finish something that you started.  Getting a degree, landing your first industry job, getting the promotion you were aiming for.  That sense of "arrival" tells us we have accomplished what we set out to do- not a bad feeling.  Over time that feeling of "arrival" slips a little.  We settle in to our place in life and our place in the workplace.  Sometimes we coast for long periods of time just knowing we have gotten where we are by the sweat of our brow.  We deserve to enjoy it, don't we?

Sure- you did good...enjoy...but don't get comfortable.  One you accept where you are it leads to complacency.  The small (yet significant) success we have had serves to rob rather than propel us to bigger things.

"The result of complacency is apathy... the soul-reeper of dreams"

The reality is that many of the helping professions have an abundance of potential clients.  People will always need medical care, specialized services, and qualified professionals.  For most industries we don't have to look far to find our next client or patient.  They are lining up for help and it feels good to be in such high demand.

What happens in this environment is that we (you and I as credentialed professionals) don't feel an obligation to move beyond this "waitlist" of need.  Why should we when the client list is never ending.  This is apathy and if you have become satisfied with who you are within your industry- you are in need of a reality shift.

"The reality is that professionals who are complacent in there practices have lost sight of their dreams."

Colleges and associations focus us on achieving higher standards with our skill sets.  The  more you know the better you are....right.  Wrong. the more you know the more likely it is that you will confirm for yourself that you are just fine where you are.  Innovation and standards of care are often perceived as the mandate of legislators and therefore beyond the scope and role of professionals.

There is a fundamental piece that is missing that only you can address.  This piece is you.  Accumulative knowledge does not make you an expert.  It makes you valuable, sure.  What makes you an expert is your dedication to growing who you are as a person so that you can impact those who co me to you for help.

"Contrary to popular belief- the true 'experts' are people who dedicate their life's work to impacting others."

Your wait-list isn't a sign that you are doing well in your industry.  It simply proves there is a need for you to meet. Neither are your Continuing Education credits from your college or association.  This just shows you are compliant to standards of industry expectations.  Real impact and real careers are made by those who dedicate time to growing themselves.


  1. Have you used your wait-list as a way of defining your success?
  2. Is "Continuing Education" defined by your yearly in-service attendance?
  3. Have you become dangerously comfortable with where you are at?

If you have answered YES to any of the above perhaps I could suggest a change:

  1. Set goals that are not about numbers served but focused on depth of change
  2. Find and nurture ways to grow in your personal development beyond the accumulative knowledge expected of you.
  3. get reacquainted with your dreams- they are just around the corner!

Don't let apathy rob you of your opportunity to do the amazing things you were meant to do.  Feed your passion.  I can help.

Enter Your Email To Receive My Free "Authenticity Actions" Workbook

 Take an intimate look at your habits, actions and plans. Develop "Authenticity Actions" to demonstrate your character on a daily basis.