Some people act with an utter clarity, certain in the virtue and right of their efforts. I am happy for them. Because i am imperfect.
What if the correct path is not always clear?
What if we have to do things that we do not totally agree with or, worse, what if the correct path is not at all clear?
To whom are we accountable for our actions, and what should we do when we have multiple masters?
We should always do the right thing, but what if ‘right’ is contextual, disputed, or unclear?
It’s easy to say that Leaders do the right thing, but in complex social contexts, in dynamic organisational systems, and as part of multiple structures of accountability, the right path may be the most convoluted of all.
I have started early design work for a programme i am running at the end of the year on ‘The Moral Leader’, exploring our imperfect selves within imperfect systems.
So far i have created five parts to the journey:
- To ask ‘WHAT IS MORALITY’, and whether it has a relationship to leadership. Is it a precondition, or a discretionary effort, is it universal, or local, is it implicit or explicit, and how do we know what shape it comes in?
- To consider the nature of our ACCOUNTABILITY – into legal systems, social systems, and organisational processes and controls.
- To consider the nature of the AMBIGUITY we face: when it is unclear what is needed or to whom we are accountable, when we are accountable to multiple and conflicting truths, and when historic norms occlude current clarity.
- To consider the nature of CULTURE – when the ‘norm’ of today becomes morality, when we conflate consensus with morality, and when change challenges morality.
- To consider the GRACE of our imperfect selves – the context of our action and the absolutes, the pragmatic necessities of leadership, and our edges and limits of authentic action.
This will change, but will form the foundation of the prototype.
I will follow the structure of the Quiet Leadership work, with the programme delivered as a structured enquiry through conversations and guided reflection.
This is not a work with an answer, but perhaps a chance to develop our navigation skills.