Do you know what the right thing to do is? Are you sure? Do you always do the right thing? Are you sure?

When I was young I used to always do the right thing; at least I thought I was doing so. I never cursed, never stole, never cheated and was nice to everyone. I never got into trouble, and I almost always tried to protect other kids.

I also spent a lot of time alone, and did some things that, had they gone awry, would have either maimed or gotten my silly self killed. I look back on some of those adventures and I sometimes ask myself “what was wrong with you”! lol Truth be told, I may have always known the right thing to do as it pertained to others, but when it came to myself I’m not 100% in following the rules to keep myself safe and healthy.

As I got older I kept on trying to do the right thing. Once, again, I always thought I was doing the right thing all the time, but I eventually learned that sometimes the right thing ends up being the wrong thing. Check out my video below for a bit more perspective on that:

Luckily, I might not have always done the right thing for myself but I worked hard on doing the right thing for my organizations, co-workers and employees. I feel pretty confident that I got it right at least 99% of the time; no one’s perfect after all. 🙂

For the most part, I tend to believe that most people in leadership are trying to do the right thing. There are some leaders who could care less about it, but I like to think the majority do care. If that’s the case, then why don’t they do the right thing more often? Let’s take a look at some possible reasons why.

1. They’re unsure what to do as a leader

I’ve said often that the overwhelming majority of people in leadership positions have never led anything previously. If you don’t have experience at it, why would you immediately be good at it? This is where mentoring and training could help, but I don’t see a lot of mentoring at companies and training is often reserved for those leaders who are the worst of the worst; that’ll never get it done.

If a leader is unsure what to do, then there’s almost no way they can get anything right. They might know how to talk to people if they have good social skills but that’s about it. However, if they understand the concept of listening and apply it properly, they might get it right at least half the time.

2. They don’t have proper authority

There are a lot of low level leaders who don’t have enough free reign to address some of the issues that crop up. Oftentimes they’re tasked only with training, not supervision or management responsibilities.

The problem I’ve seen is that waiting for proper authority sometimes means things don’t get done. It takes courage and a bit of chutzpah to take charge of a situation, even without the proper authority. If you know what you’re doing, sometimes it’s the right thing to do, even if you have to pay for it later on if the person you report to doesn’t like it.

3. Fear

Fear of responsibility, fear of being found out, fear of change… you name it, you’ve probably seen it. Fear can be paralyzing, to the extent that nothing gets done, questions aren’t answered, and unfortunately those they report to are often the same, which means a perpetuation of a bad thing.

Leaders who operate from fear shouldn’t be leading anything. Fear can be overcome with training and/or mentoring, but fearful leaders rarely take the plunge for fear of being found out. That’s why they shouldn’t be leaders, and those they report to who don’t release them need to lose their jobs as well.

4. Incompetence

Incompetence is different that my first point because these are people who don’t have any idea what they’re doing. Instead of finding out, they’ll tell you what they think the answer is without making sure they’re telling you the truth.

The right thing to do would be to acknowledge they might not know the answer and then go find out what it is. Many people in leadership positions believe they’re supposed to know everything, even when they know they don’t. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing it all; who actually knows it all?

5. Credit and blame

Those who take credit for work others did and are ready to blame others when bad things happen will never do the right thing for anyone, including their friends and family. They have no real sense of loyalty or a moral compass; it’s only about their needs and wants.

No one will ever be able to do the right thing if they only think about themselves. It takes acts of selflessness in order to do the right thing on a consistent basis.

Of course there are more, but when you get deeper into it everything else you come up with can fall into one of these categories easily enough. I’ll end by asking these two questions: 1) do any of these fit you, and if so what are you willing to do about it; 2), if you know someone who exhibits these behaviors, how well do you work with them?

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