Hacks Are Not Leaders

Compromising the values and operating procedures of an organization in the name of bringing people together is always a mistake. Violating your own rules of operation (instead of changing them using procedures outlined for that purpose) breeds contempt. When that happens, everyone will violate the rules. The breadth of the violations will make it impossible to enforce them. And then everyone will, to quote the Book of Judges, "do what is right in their own eyes."

Exceptionalism is not about being better than anyone else. It's about dreams, energy, and aspiration. If you can't explain why the institution that you lead makes a distinctive, vital contribution, then you have undermined its reason for being. The fear that you will be thought of as narrow, unreasonable, or provincial is the fear of a hack.

Lead and be clear about why and where you are leading. (That's not a license to be abusive. It's a caution against cowardice.)

And, finally, momento mori. Remember you will die and people will find fault with the decisions you have made. Do you have the courage to own your own successes and failures, or are you prepared, even after you are dead, to have other people define the contribution you've made?

"Here lies a hack," is hardly an inspiring epitaph.

12/5/2011 5:00:00 AM