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  • Writer's pictureNancy Dering Mock

Honorable Leadership

Honor is a word rarely heard in an organizational context. Yet, it can be a powerful and provocative concept in understanding leadership. In this case, honor is synonymous with respect, esteem and regard. How do leaders exemplify honor?

1. Honor Self. It is not egotistical to have self-respect. Effective leaders honor themselves through self-care and self-regulation. They guard their self-esteem and take personal responsibility for their actions. This is a healthy foundation for strong leadership.

2. Honor Others. This is basic regard for the humanity and gifts of others. It is respect for differences and acknowledgement of the strengths and weaknesses of others. It is a baseline from which productive relationships are built. In Doug Conant's words, "Create environments where people believe they will be honored."

3. Honor Your Word. Credible leaders are those who keep their commitments and promises. Nothing so undermines the credibility of leaders than reneging on their word.

And, if there is no recourse but to renege, they explain the circumstances to others.

4. Honor Your Values. A lot has been written about authenticity in leadership. Authenticity, in part, is staying true to who you are and to your deeply held values and beliefs. This can create moral dilemmas for some leaders, who are challenged to reconcile their beliefs with what is going on in their organization. Different people handle this in different ways, but inability to reconcile can lead to conflict, disillusionment and disengagement.

5. Exemplify Your Organization's Values. Honorable leadership includes being an exemplar of the stated values or guiding principles of the organization. It means expecting others to do so as well.

Honor is a form of respect and regard for self and others. Honorable leadership contributes to dignity in an organization. Beyond basic satisfaction and engagement, It leads to a sense of integrity and pride. Honorable leadership at all levels of an organization ultimately results not only in business success, but also to "environments where people believe they will be honored."

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  1. Why do you believe honor is not a concept discussed very often in a work environment?

  2. What does "honoring self" look like for you? What are they ways you honor yourself?

  3. Have you experienced situations where your personal values conflicted with your organization's values? How did you reconcile this conflict?

  4. Describe your interpretation of an "environment where people believe they will be honored."

  5. What are the implications for leaders? For you?

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