WISDOM LEADING: The Conversation

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The Better Angels of Our Nature

Dr. Foster Mobley // History, Sports, Wisdom Leading

This weekend, it was revealed that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling had been taped recently making horrifyingly racist statements to his girlfriend. Let's leave retribution to the National Basketball Association or the fans, because I want to use this opportunity to talk about what may be the leader's greatest responsibility. It's been said that leaders don't get a day off-that we have to show up prepared to lead. What does that really mean? It means that as leaders, it's our duty to demonstrate the qualities of character and behavior that we want our people to aspire to for themselves. We can't just talk about presence, clarity, calm and trust; we have to live them, to embody them every single day. The led always mirror the leader. If we want our people to reach their full potential, our most important task is to reach our full potential and make sure those qualities permeate everything we say and do. That's how we inspire others to bring forth, as Lincoln called them, "the better angels of our nature." Doing that isn't easy. We're not machines. Sometimes we fall short. Sterling fell far short, and showed that while he may be the team's owner, he's not its leader. His disgrace reminds us that money, titles and executive authority have nothing to do with leadership. Character does. How does your behavior, even in quiet moments, reveal your character and commitment to greatness?

This weekend, it was revealed that Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling had been taped recently making horrifyingly racist statements to his girlfriend. Let's leave retribution to the National Basketball Association or the fans, because I want to use this opportunity to talk about what may be the leader's greatest responsibility.

It's been said that leaders don't get a day off-that we have to show up prepared to lead. What does that really mean? It means that as leaders, it's our duty to demonstrate the qualities of character and behavior that we want our people to aspire to for themselves. We can't just talk about presence, clarity, calm and trust; we have to live them, to embody them every single day.

The led always mirror the leader. If we want our people to reach their full potential, our most important task is to reach our full potential and make sure those qualities permeate everything we say and do. That's how we inspire others to bring forth, as Lincoln called them, "the better angels of our nature."

Doing that isn't easy. We're not machines. Sometimes we fall short. Sterling fell far short, and showed that while he may be the team's owner, he's not its leader. His disgrace reminds us that money, titles and executive authority have nothing to do with leadership. Character does.

How does your behavior, even in quiet moments, reveal your character and commitment to greatness? 

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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams