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August 22, 1992

Taking Action

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The Power of One is truly astounding. One Ethical Leader has the power to transform any situation. The following simple movements await any leader in practicing the Power of One.

Step Up

The next time the internal alarm clock goes off signaling the opportunity to practice the Power of One, do it. Step up and do that which is the good, the right, and the true. Don’t wait for the popular vote to come in. Don’t wait for someone else to lead the way. Be the ethical champion. It might be in a quiet room balancing the financial books. Or it might be in the public square making an offer to buy a company. It might be in a restaurant by yourself putting the meal on the company card when it should be on your personal card. It might sound out when you find your boss asking some detailed questions of accountability and your options are to lay it on the line or shade the truth.

Whether someone is looking or not, the next ethical intersection you come to, step up and make the move. Take the ethical leadership. It could be a moral intersection, financial intersection, relational intersection, or even a physical intersection. Regardless of the distinction, slow down and appraise the speed you’re traveling and make sure you don’t miss a chance to practice the Power of One. The famous football coach Knute Rockne said: “One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it.” Step up.

Nail Down

Make a firm commitment to truth telling and honesty. Look in the mirror and ask yourself a few questions. Go even a step further if possible and get feedback from a friend or co-worker. Then:

1. Draw an ethical map on yourself, identifying precisely when you were at your ethical leadership peak.

2. Analyze your communication and accounting style. Which words best describe that part of your world?

Very Me—Sometimes Me—Rarely Me

Sloppy
Self-interested
Open book
Slippery and shifty
Accurate
Adequate
Hidden agenda
Simple
Forthright
Complicated
Confusing

3. Describe how others perceive your moral authority. Do you have an affinity for the truth or do you lean into the shady world of half-truths and partial deception? Is that a style you picked up along your personal and professional path? If so, when and where?

4. Write out a Power of One Pledge that outlines your personal commitment to be the ethical leader in all the circles of your life. Deciding ahead of time doesn’t automatically mean you will execute correctly when afforded the opportunity, but it does tilt the action toward the right direction.

Power of One Pledge _____________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________

Sound Out

Sometimes it’s lonely to be the person sounding out the voice of honesty and truth. Chances are that every week you see people around you who step up and practice the Power of One. They don’t go along with popular opinion; they offer the answer that might ruffle the boss, or they take delicate information to a superior for the good of the company. Become a quiet cheerleader. Drop these ethical people a note or leave them a voicemail, send them an e-mail and tell them what a great job they’re doing by practicing the Power of One. Let them know you saw and applaud their willingness to be an ethical leader. Give them emotional support and reinforce the practice of the Power of One.

According to The Life of Francis d’ Assisi, France once invited a young monk to join him on a trip to the local village to preach. Honored to be asked and excited to learn from the master, the monk accepted. All day long Francis and the monk walked through the streets, byways, and alleys caring for the needs of the poor and helpless along the way. They rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people. At day’s end the two headed home. Not even once had Francis addressed the gathered crowds. Greatly disappointed, his young companion said, “I thought we were going into town to preach.” Francis responded. “My son, we did preach. We were preaching while we were walking. We were watched by many and our behavior was closely observed. It is of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere we walk!”

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