Pedestals and Broken Belief

(NOTE: This forum has always centered on EHS leadership. On the development of EHS technicians into business leaders. Leadership isn’t easy nor simple. And sometimes it breaks your heart.)

If I made a list of the people who had influenced my military career, he would be in the top 20. I watched him speak, mentor, and even sat in his office while he reviewed my annual performance reports for suggested areas of improvement and focus. He inspired me and many others.

His pedestal cracked this week.

The news release stated he was relieved of position and charged with multiple counts of breaches of integrity. He is now awaiting court martial (military trial).

It’s not the first time a leader has fallen. Nearly every organization has a story of a CEO, general, or other leader who failed ethically and left an open wound in the fabric of the culture.

In “The Journal of Business Ethics“, Ludwig and Longenecker warn “success is an antecedent of ethical failure”. Their article, “The Bathsheba Syndrome: The Ethical Failure of Successful Leaders“, is a sobering look at the factors surrounding public falls from pedestals.

The authors offer the following advice to leaders:

1. It could happen to you.

2. Balance family, relationships and interests outside of work. Stay in touch.

3. Avoid complacency with strategic direction and current performance.

4. Build an ethical team around you.

5. Ethical leadership is a part of leadership. Once lost it is difficult if not impossible to regain.

Link to the full article here.


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