I was reading the other day about these two professors, (presumably not nutty) called James Kouzes and Barry Posner.
So far – so boring.
But – apparently, they designed a survey called “Characteristics of Admired Leaders” and over the last 25 years it’s been taken by more than 75,000 people from all around the world.
Here’s the thing; according to James and Barry, it doesn’t overly matter what the demographic is, what the organization is, or even what the culture is – in almost every survey conducted there’s one leadership characteristic that consistently comes out on top.
The percentages vary, but the final ranking does not. So, what is it? What’s the quality that is most admired in leaders?
Honesty ranks above every other quality or characteristic you can think of. It ranks above capacity, or intelligence, or experience – all those things; because first and foremost people don’t want to follow people they can’t trust. Choosing between a leader that knows what they’re doing but can’t be trusted or someone who doesn’t have all the answers but openly admits it (and asks for help) is not exactly a difficult decision!
People would rather follow someone that’s always real than someone that’s always right.
Of course, the irony is that if you are honest, then more often than not what you do will be right – I guess honesty is the best policy after all.