“A leader leads by example, whether he intends to or not.“
Invariably what is important to the person on top, quickly becomes important to the rest of the crowd. I believe this is especially true when dealing with values, which are difficult to analyze.
I’m sure you’ve seen this as clearly as I. It is perhaps most clear in political leaders because they are so clearly in the spotlight. But you need to look no further than your place of work and your boss.
What does your boss value? Fairness and kindness? The bottom line and money? Family life and children? Social justice and human rights? Self-adulation and power? Looks and social status? Whatever values they are, soon they will be the popular ones, the “right” ones. It is inevitable.
So when we vote, or choose anyone for leadership, this is an important element to keep in mind: Soon this person’s values will be the country’s (the city’s, the school’s, the organization’s). They will drip down, as surely as water seeks its own level.
My own experience with this idea is not so high-level and not so great. I was the head of the organization. It was a small one indeed, but sure enough, my values trickled down. At that particular time my values, from a present point of view, were skewed. I was more interested in the values I expressed by playing racquetball than the ones I might have received from engagement with the thorny challenges of the organization; more interested in the values of developing friendships than administration.
Thus I look back now and see it was a friendly organization but adrift, badly in need of a strong hand, of a leader with the values of decisiveness and order, the values that come from leading, possibly at the price of popularity. Be aware that you, and all of us, are dripped down on. Be aware that your values drip down on others.
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