What would poses someone with such influence to do something so stupid? Yesterday’s announcement by NBC News to suspend anchor Brian Williams for 6 months without pay for lying on air, raises the question of why do leaders with great influence so often fall from grace?
I would guess that sometime in your career, a leader that you admired did something stupid to fall from your grace. We often only hear about the so-called celebrities that fall, but it could have been a father, mother, teacher or some other role model in your life that let you down. Whoever it is, it takes a psychological toll on you as a follower.
As I think about this topic, here are a few reasons that I can see that would cause someone with influence to damage their position and reputation as a leader.
1) Their ego becomes more important that their mission. – Once a leader starts to think that they are more important and valuable than the cause or people they lead, then the downward spiral of distrust begins. Why would Brian Williams tell such an outrageous lie with millions of people watching? I believe that stardom overtook him and therefore he felt like he was untouchable. I have seen this happen in the business world. A leader has success and starts to think that he or she is the reason for the success. Remember, as a leader you are only as good as those around you!
2) They are willing to sacrifice results for personal recognition. – Our job as leaders is to get results. The moment you are willing to sacrifice results to satisfy your ever growing ego, then you have broken the trust of those around you. It is this disease of selfishness that will ultimately lead to your demise as a leader. Some of the most influential leaders I know, do not like the attention or recognition that they so rightly deserve. Maybe that is why they get it!
3) Their talent is greater than their character. – There is no doubt that to become an influential leader, you must have talent to create that influence. We have seen this happen with professional athletes for years. They get drafted and payed an absence amount of money and all of a sudden they find themselves in trouble. As the old saying goes, money will only make you more of who you are. To create a legacy as a leader, you must exhibit moral character at all times. It really is about who you are when no one is looking. Too bad millions of people were watching when Mr. Williams made those outrageous claims.
Let me encourage you today to take a look at your leadership journey and remind you that your job as a leader is to empower those around you to become great. If you do so with a humble attitude and a servant heart, you will have a lasting impact as an influential leader.