April 27, 1991

Making Evaluation

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When pollster George Barna asked people whether they had “complete confidence” that leaders from various professions would “consistently make job-related decisions that are morally appropriate,” the results were abysmal:

Type of Leader % Who Hold Public’s Complete Confidence

Executives of large corporations 3%
Elected government officials 3%
Film and TV producers, directors, and writers 3%
News reporters and journalists 5%
Small business owners 8%
Ministers, priests, and clergy 11%
Teachers 14%

It’s revealing that even regarding the most trusted leaders (teachers), six out of seven people are unwilling to give them their complete trust. There is a crisis of ethical confidence that surrounds entire professions. The public’s trust has been shaken.

But the question right here, right now is not about public confidence in an entire profession. It’s about me. A Chinese general put it this way: “If the world is to be brought to order, my nation must first be changed. If my nation is to be changed, my hometown must be made over. If my hometown is to be reordered, my family must first be set right. If my family is to be transformed, I myself must first be.” Trust in leadership and trust in life starts with one person at a time earning it and practicing it. The real question is: Do you have confidence in yourself to take an ethical stance—even in tough situations? Would others expect that kind of leadership from you? Let’s digest that question a little further.

1. Name someone you admire (either an individual you actually know or are familiar with) because he or she always tells the truth, and therefore is someone you can always trust. If you rated his/her word on a scale of 1 to 10, and then did the same with your word, how would you compare?

2. Identify from your recent past a situation in which you needed to show more backbone.

3. Look at your calendar for the next week and practice some ethical anticipation. In other words what specific situations do you see coming your way that will require more than normal moral backbone?

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