There is such a need for a complete rebirth of trust in our leaders. Somewhere along the line they have lost their authenticity, humility and integrity, and in doing so they have lost their empathy| True Test of Leadership is The Ability to Act Ethically Consistently
Owing to the lessons learned throughout the COVID-19 crisis, it is high time to design a better world that is characterized by empathy, personal integrity, non-racialism, nature friendly, efficient and smart working, circularity, a changed role of HR, good governance, and ethical leadership. The significant feature of this better world entails SUSTAINABILITY, that is, sustainability in innovation, design, HR, leadership, diversity and inclusion, corporate governance, family businesses, and higher management education, as shown in this figure.
The first rule of sustainability is alignment with yourself, to continuously perceive what you do sustainability and be aware of the influence of your behavior and actions on human beings, animals, plants, and the environment. This is personal integrity, which is the foundation of empathy and eco-design thinking. In my articles “HOW TO DESIGN A BETTER WORLD“ and “Design For Sustainability”, I discussed in detail how to design this better world sustainably.
This article focuses on sustainability in leadership. This is based on my new book “Eco-Design Thinking for Personal, Corporate and Social Innovation; How to Become a Disruptive Eco-Design Thinker Like Elon Musk“. Read the excerpt of this book, which is about reimagining design and innovation.
Sustainability in leadership requires a new way of thinking. This new way of thinking is eco-design thinking. The difference between traditional way of thinking and eco-design thinking is shown in this figure. It’s about a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset.
Empathetic Authentic Leadership
A better world requires authentic leaders who lead with personal integrity and empathy. Remember: Personal integrity and empathy are 95% of true leadership. In this article I introduce a methodology for developing personal integrity & empathy sustainably. Let me start with some important related quotes:
“The essence of great leadership is personal integrity and empathy“–Hubert Rampersad
“In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. If you do not have the first, the other two will kill you. If you hire somebody without personal integrity, you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”–Warren Buffett
Honesty and personal integrity are critical components in today’s business. They are the most fundamental character traits of leaders and professionals and crucial ingredients in creating empathy.
The new normal requires personal integrity, empathy, and sustainable good governance. For this you need real empathy, also empathy and respect for animals. I refer to this article “Jane Goodall says ‘disrespect for animals’ caused pandemic”. Read also what Sir David Attenborough said: “Humans Are A Plague On Earth’. Human impact is having a catastrophic impact of our planet and on climate change. Also remember: “It’s not climate change that needs to be tackled. It is the personal integrity of people, which is awareness about their behavior and actions on human beings, animals, plants, and the environment. This is the first rule of sustainability and the foundation of empathy and eco-innovation”. — Hubert Rampersad
How to Develop Personal Integrity
The ability to look at oneself honestly and openly is the most powerful and important skill in becoming a successful authentic leader. Customers and employees will trust you if they experience consistent trustworthy behaviors. It is, therefore, important to ensure that who you are, what you say you are, and what others experience from you are always the same. When you commit to do something for your customer, he/she will take you at your word. When you betray this trust, it is very hard to get it back. You need to be integer and honest and always live up to your promise. With a reputation of integrity, you will develop a long-term relationship with your customers and others. In this way, you will become a trusted resource. If you offer a relationship based on trust, your employees will stay loyal and won’t not waste time looking for someone else. As a result of this, your relationship builds brand equity, which entails the cumulative levels of credibility, trust, and value.
Personal integrity is the foundation of eco-governance, as discussed in my article “The Future of Corporate Governance“.
Being Genuine, Authentic, Integer, and Honest are Essential in the New Normal
In this section I will introduce a methodology for developing personal integrity sustainably, as described in my new book “Eco-Design Thinking for Personal, Corporate and Social Innovation; How to Become a Disruptive Eco-Design Thinker Like Elon Musk“. Remember, having a great personal brand identity can make you a big winner or a big loser if your brand does not reflect your true character and if you do not deliver on your related promise. Employees and customers want to work with people they trust. They do not want to work with somebody that is selling fairy tales. Not delivering on your promise is a secure way to ruin your reputation and credibility. Credibility is the most important thing to a leader or professional. You, therefore, need to demonstrate integrity and a positive reputation at all times. If you want to be a successful leader or professional, you have got to earn your customer’s trust, that means being genuine, authentic, integer, and honest.
To become a successful leader, you need to commit yourself to live and act according to your brand promise and ensure that you can deliver. Employees and customers relate to you as your word, and how you fulfill on that. If you say you will do something, you should do that with no excuses. Each time you make or break a promise, you are affecting your brand image. You should also keep promises that you make to yourself. If you break a promise to yourself, you will not have inner peace and will not develop personal credibility and charisma. You have to live your values consistently on a day -to-day basis and show transparency and accountability. A personal leadership brand built on lies will crash (truth always comes out), and a brand built on the person’s true character is sustainable and strong. To borrow Dwight Eisenhower’s words, a person that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.
Building Trust by Being Your True Authentic Self
Your personal leadership brand should reflect your true self and must adhere to a moral and behavioral code set down by your personal ambition, as described in in detail in my “Personal Disruptive Innovation Model”. This means that who you really are, what you care about, and your passions should come out in your leadership brand, and you should act and behave accordingly (you should be yourself) to build trust. I refer to my article “4 Steps to Become Resilient and Cultivate a Growth Mindset“:
Trust will be built faster when others believe you are real and when they witness you being true to your beliefs and aligned with who you really are. You will build trust when your values connect to your attitudes and actions and when you are true to yourself.
Building trust starts with being true and authentic to yourself. This involves finding the proper balance between your personal ambition and your behavior and actions in order to create a stable basis for trust, it is about alignment with yourself. This inner alignment is an important step towards lasting personal growth, reduction of ego, and reinforcing empathy, integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, credibility, and personal charisma. People with this perspective on life create a stable basis for being empathic, credible, truthful, and trustworthy. They:
- Practice what they preach.
- Keep their word; their actions match their words and their personal ambition.
- Keep their brand promises; there is consistency between their personal brand and their behavior.
- Do what they said they would do, despite the obstacles.
When you achieve this inner authority, you will become empathetic and you will also have a positive effect on the commitment, motivation, and dedication of those around you. As a result of this, promoting yourself based on your personal brand will be much easier, sustainable, and successful. In this way, your personal image (what others identify with you) will be in harmony with your personal leadership brand (how others perceive you); your image will be a reflection of your brand. This alignment of your ambition and behavior is needed because if you do not deliver according to your brand promise, it will negatively affect your reputation and damage your personal brand. Therefore, it is advisable to under-promise and over-deliver always.
The most intimate relationship you have is with yourself. You will strengthen this relationship and build personal integrity by aligning your personal ambition with your behavior and actions– with who and what you really are. This aligning process is about the interaction between your dream, aspirations, intentions, purpose, and values—in other words, your personal ambition— and how others interpret you (your personal behavior). So developing personal integrity is a spiritual process. I refer to my article “How Mindful Meditation Boosts Creativity, Innovation, and Imagination”.
Alignment with Yourself
“When you examine the lives of the most influential people who have ever walked among us, you discover one thread that winds through them all. They have been aligned first with their spiritual nature and only then with their physical selves.”– Albert Einstein
Your values (which are part of your personal ambition) are the principles by which you live your life, and affect the way you think, feel, act, and behave. When your actions, behavior, and thoughts reflect your values, the result is personal integrity. This affects your relationship with others and your empathic behavior positively.
There is a potential difference between how you see yourself (who you want to be), and how others judge you (how you are perceived by others). While we judge ourselves by our invisible behavioral patterns, others judge us by our visible behavioral patterns—what we do and say and how we act. These judgments are the perceptions of you in the heads of others. The more distinctive your actions, the better your brand becomes for them. To become the person envisioned in your personal ambition, you also have to know how others see you and what they think of you. When you know this, your self-knowledge increases and you will be able to improve the effectiveness of your actions. As a result, your brand and your empathetic and innovation skills will be stronger. Therefore, I recommend the establishment of a balance or fit between your personal ambition (which envisions a higher level of consciousness) and your personal behavior (which refers to your present behavior and actions), as shown in this Figure.
Balance Between Personal Ambition and Personal Behavior/Actions
Your personal ambition is shaped by your mind-set. Behind these opinions, your motives and inner needs as expressed through your behavior are hidden. In order to achieve sustainable personal improvement and develop personal integrity, it is necessary to find a balance between your personal ambition and your personal behavior/actions. You should reflect during this alignment process on the following questions:
- Do I act in accordance with my conscience and my values?
- Is there consistency between what I am thinking and what I am doing?
- How do my ideas, ambitions, intentions, and values fit my present actions?
- Are my thoughts and my practices the same?
- Do I act consistently in accordance with my personal ambition? Am I really empathetic?
- Does my personal ambition reflect my desire to act ethically and empathically?
- Are there contradictions in my personal ambition and my empathic behavior?
- Do I keep promises that I make to myself?
- How do others perceive me and my values?
- Do they witness me being true to my core beliefs and me staying in alignment with who I really am?
Matching Personal Ambition with Personal Behavior and Actions
This process of empathy and personal integrity enhancement involves the establishment of a match or fit between your personal ambition and your behavior/your way of acting, as shown in below Figure. It has to do with reaching a higher degree of compatibility between these two elements. Both must be the same. When you find harmony between your personal ambition and your personal behavior/way of acting, you will not come into conflict with your conscience. Then, you can work authentically and purposefully at launching your brand without wasting energy and with inner peace. In this way, you will become empathic, enhance your charisma, be transparent, and become trusted.
Harmony between your personal ambition/brand and your personal behavior/actions ensures that your deeds are in line with your conscience. According to Selvazajan Yesudian: “Our conscience is the inner voice that talks to us with firm conviction to help us distinguish between right and wrong, between fact and fiction. It is a voice that whispers to us what we can do best and guides us in our daily activities. It is a voice that we can trust and on which we can build our existence. It is the only reliable compass to follow if there is a conflict between the mind that reasons and the heart that decides.” In this way, you will gain better insight into your empathic behavior, and your strengths and weaknesses. It has also an impact on your solidarity with others. Remember what Albert Schweitzer said: “The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity and empathy with other human beings.”
Harmony between personal ambition and personal behavior also has to do with attentiveness, namely, to continuously perceive what you do and be aware of the influence of your behavior and actions on human beings, animals, plants and the environment (social innovation). As this attentiveness develops, your ethical behavior will increase. The breathing and silence exercise introduced in my article “Redesigning Your Life” and reflection on the match between your personal ambition and your personal behavior/actions will help to stimulate your attentiveness. In this way you will become a better human being.
Harmony Between Personal Ambition and Personal Behavior
Harmony between personal ambition and personal behavior has to do with attentiveness, namely, to continuously perceive what you do and be aware of the influence of your behavior and actions on human beings, animals, plants, and the environment (social responsibility and social innovation). As this attentiveness develops, your ethical and empathic behavior will increase and your ego and arrogance will be reduced. The breathing and silence exercise introduced in my book and reflection on the match between your personal ambition and your personal behavior/actions will help to stimulate your attentiveness. In this way, you will also become a better human being and a strong personal brand.
The best way to look at success is to ask yourself:
- Have I followed my conscience consistently?
- Have I followed my personal ambition consistently?
- Have I given it my best effort consistently?
- Have I done what was right consistently?
- Have I demonstrated empathic behavior consistently?
I believe in the importance of ethics in the design industry and that the credibility and reputation of the design thinking profession are shaped by the collective conduct of individual design thinking professional. That is why I also provided the Design Thinking Code of Ethics.
The New Normal Requires Empathy
Empathy means awareness of the emotions of others; the emotional connection with others. Empathy without personal integrity is BS! I refer to my article “50 Tips for Leading With Personal Integrity and Empathy”. Remember: “The higher your personal integrity, the better your attentiveness, the better your empathic skills, the better your design, and the happier your customer”- Hubert Rampersad.
The new normal also requires inclusive leadership and leading with empathy. Leveraging diversity, inclusion, and belonging is key in developing empathy. I refer to my article “Eco-Diversity”. “There’s such a need to move the traditional Diversity & Inclusion focus on cozy diversity initiatives and bureaucratical policies, and instead focus on fostering a sustainable culture of eco-diversity in which eco-innovation, creativity, personal integrity, empathy, employee engagement, and a true authentic sense of belonging & inclusion are embedded; by doing so love, happiness, and productivity at the workplace will increase. It is about time for HR managers and D&I executives and professionals to understand that happy, ethical, empathic, and smart employees make happy customers”.— Hubert Rampersad
The introduced leadership concept is part of a bigger eco-design thinking picture: it entails aligning personal innovation with corporate innovation, alignment with yourself (to enhance personal integrity and empathy) and alignment with your design team (to enhance designer’s engagement), as shown in this Figure:
So innovation, storytelling, personal integrity, empathy and employee engagement are all part of this bigger picture.
Advance Praise for the new book “Eco-Design Thinking for Personal, Corporate and Social Innovation”
Dr. Hubert Rampersad is a Reimaginer of Design, Innovation and Management, a Disruptive Innovation Futurist, and a Global Crusader for Sustainability. He is author of 25 other books on innovation, management, and entrepreneurial leadership, published in many languages. One of his books, Total Performance Scorecard, published in 20 languages was foreworded by Harvard Business School Innovation professor Dorothy Leanard. He has been featured on BusinessWeek / Bloomberg. …..read further about the author
Center of Excellence in Innovation Leadership
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