A Leader of Character uses their own past to improve another person’s future.
“If I say something, won’t I be a hypocrite?”
When a leader takes over a team which includes people who are former peers, the fear of hypocrisy is often a concern. As a result, many new leaders let issues go unaddressed. Why? Because the leader realizes they violated the same policy or protocol in the past themselves.
Overcoming this fear becomes a test of our Integrity. It is a moment when we get to choose if we will allow our past to continue having a negative effect on our future, or we will choose to exercise Integrity. If we are in a position where our title gives us authority to correct and coach others, then we have a moral obligation to step up and correct the behavior—regardless of our past choices.
Since 2017, I have worked with hundreds of leaders in local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. Many of them now lead teams within agencies in which they were once rookies. Therefore, they are leading their former peers. The challenge is real.
If you work in any place where your former peers are now your responsibility, you will likely feel the gravity of this challenge. When I am asked about such situations, my advice is this, “Sometimes to be a good coach, you will feel like a hypocrite.”
Middle and upper management will often be faced with feeling like a hypocrite. When a team member stares you down because they know you made similar choices in your past—but now you are correcting them—it is a test of our Humility, Courage and Integrity. Without the Courage and Integrity to step forward and make those corrections, your organization will continue to make the same mistakes it made in the past. The direction of the team will never change and the direction of the entire organization won’t change either. It is a good thing we have Humility on our side to help us have hard conversations.
I always advise leaders to take the humble approach and address their past. It is wise to let them know, “You are right. I did this in my past as well. I was wrong then and I’d be wrong now to allow it to continue.”
To be a good coach and to lead an effective team, we will likely feel like hypocrites at times. But part of being a coach is to share your own experiences. This includes the successes and the failures.
A Leader of Character knows they were and are not perfect. They use their own past to improve another person’s future. A leader may have fallen down in the past. But, they get up, learn, adapt and then teach. It is the willingness to teach others based on our own failures which tests our Courage, Humility and Integrity. Good coaches rise to those tests and do what is best for the individual and for the team—even if it costs them.
But Integrity—is worth it.
Dig Deep Questions:
As a coach, have you ever felt like a hypocrite?
How could pairing Humility, Integrity and Courage change your work and home life?
It is important to us for you to have an opportunity to exercise Integrity, not only individually, but together as a team. This is why we have created practice cards with scenarios. We invite you to discuss as a team what it means to exercise Integrity via our Coaching Cards.
Download our FREE Postcards here: https://www.becomingaleaderofcharacter.com/tools-resources