The Law Of Solid Ground is particularly significant in this season of Elections as politicians are being judged based on their track records. People are asking can we trust this individual to lead us?
Welcome to the 6th law of Leadership by John Maxwell.
The opening paragraph begins with yet another instructive story from the author. John tells the story of how he made three decisions that caused him to break trust with people at work. He had acted on his decisions without taking others through the deliberate steps needed to process them. When he realized his mistake, he had to make a public apology in order for him to rebuild trust.
“ As soon as I realized I was wrong, I publicly apologized to my people and asked for their forgiveness…Your people know when you make mistakes, the real question is whether you’re going to fess up!”
The experience helped him understand that when it comes to Leadership, you cannot take short cuts. The faster you recognize your faults, admit them and make the necessary changes, the better it is for you.
A leaders history of success and failures makes a big difference in his credibility.
In the book, he compares good leadership to earning and spending pocket change, saying “Each time you make a good leadership decision, it puts change in your pocket. Each time you make a poor one, you have to pay out some of your change to the people”.
Every leader has a certain amount of change in his pocket when he starts in a new leadership position. From then on, he either builds up his change or pays it out. A leader who keeps making good decisions and keeps recording wins for the organization builds up his change. Even if he makes a huge blunder, he can still have plenty of change left over
So what is the Law of Solid Ground?
Trust is the foundation of leadership. Character makes leadership possible and trust makes leadership possible. To build trust, a leader must exemplify these qualities: competence, connection and character. That is the law of Solid Ground.
The truth is, “People will forgive occasional mistakes based on competence, they will give you time to connect, but they won’t trust someone who has slips in character.” In order to emphasis the significance of character, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf says “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character, But if you must be without one, be without strategy”. That’s because Character and Leadership credibility always go hand in hand.
Whenever you lead people, it’s as if they consent to take a journey with you; the way the trip is going to turn out is predicated by your character. With a good character, the longer the trip is, the better it seems. But if your character is flawed, the longer the trip is, the worse it gets. Why? Because no one enjoys spending time with someone he doesn’t trust.
Let’s look at 3 ways character communicates:
Character communicates Consistency: Leaders without inner strength can’t be counted on day after day because their ability to perform changes constantly. NBA great Jerry West commented. You can’t get too much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good”. If people don’t know what to expect from you as a leaders, at some point, they wont look to you for leadership.
Character Communicates Potential: Craig Weatherup explains, “You don’t build trust by talking about it. You build it by achieving results, always with integrity and in a manner that shows real personal regard for the people with whom you work. When a leader’s character is strong, people trust him and they trust in his ability to release their potential.
3. Character Communicates Respect: When you don’t have trust within, you cant earn respect without. And respect is absolutely essential for lasting leadership.
Wondering how leaders earn respect? Why, by making sound decisions, admitting their mistakes and putting what’s best for their followers and the organization ahead of their personal agendas!
J.R. Miller once observed, “The only thing that walks back from the tomb with the mourners and refuses to be buried is the character of a man.
In summary, a leader’s good character builds trust among his followers, but when a leader breaks trust, he forfeits his ability to lead and pays a price for breaking the law.
Make developing your character every bit as important each day as improving your skills and increasing your professional knowledge. Constantly strive to exemplify integrity in all your professional and personal relationships. Work daily to connect with those you influence.
As you do, you will be amazed not only at the positive results, but by the speed in which they occur as you work to make trust your foundation of leadership.
So What are you currently doing to develop your character?