Today’s news was highlighted by the revelation of a privately filmed video of Mitt Romney at a home fund raiser making specific comments about Democrats and the Democratic base. Of course last week we saw the devastating effects of a video gone viral that has led to death in the Middle East and threats to our country. There still seems to be a lot of naivety about the power of social media and our seemingly innocent communication. There is a message here for all leaders.
1. We live and lead in a very public world. To what ever degree you have followers you are open to being publicized. Through Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube, or Instagram you can be found out, exposed, broadcast, and humiliated.
2. All leadership decisions and actions are leveraged. Leadership, by its very nature, is a leveraged proposition. What I mean by that is that every action you take or decision you make always has a multiplied impact for good or for bad. Yet, leaders often forget this indisputable principle. Leadership by definition is influence. Through your platform you have the ability to bless or to curse. And even your “private” moments or communication is open to scrutiny and able to be multiplied.
3. Character always matters. Our society does not want to really believe this. But character has always mattered. We tend to hold our highest leaders to this standard, but not ourselves. We always think it only matters above us, but not for us. Character is the mix of ethical traits that make up a person. People are looking for authenticity, meaning that a person is the same in public as they are in private. This provides the foundation for trust. Character must have a foundation that supersedes self. Because left to ourselves, we will always fail to one degree or another. Until we find the character foundation that deals properly with selfishness we will always be susceptible to accusations we see in the news today.
We have to lead with eyes wide open–because all eyes are on us.