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July 2011 - Leaders Must Possess a Sound Moral Compass

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John A. Kline, PhD jkline@klinespeak.com
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Dr. John KlineYour moral compass is based on your values, ethics and morals. If your values, ethics and morals are corrupt, you will make corrupt decisions.

A leader with a faulty moral compass may succeed for a while, but in a matter of time, such leaders fall. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” People will rebel eventually rebel against a leader with a faulty moral compass.

Some people claim there are no moral absolutes and, therefore, it is impossible to have an unchanging moral compass. For them, nothing is necessarily right or wrong; all things are relative. Such a claim could help them justify stealing your stuff, punching you in the nose for no reason, or inflicting great bodily harm on you just because they didn’t like the color of your skin, your hometown, the clothes you are wearing or for any other reason—or presumably, for no reason at all. I am puzzled when such people claim they are absolutely sure no moral absolutes exist. Go figure that one—absolutely sure there are no moral absolutes!

Abraham Lincoln told the story of a tall, majestic, nearly perfect tree. One day the farmer who owned the tree saw a squirrel run up the tree and into a hole. He thought it strange this tree had a hole where a squirrel lived. Upon closer examination, he found this stately tree which he always saw as the sign of the strength and stability of his farm was hollow from top to bottom. Only a rim of sound wood remained, barely enough to support its own weight. Not wanting to cut it down, he let it stand; always knowing that if a wind should blow it down, his family might be crushed. Such is the case with a dishonest leader; one without integrity; one who will do the expedient rather than the right thing. For a time, the leader may look good and even seem to function well, but when the storm comes, such leaders will crash to the ground and take others them—causing great hurt, embarrassment and hardship not only for themselves, but on associates, family and friends.

Someone once defined integrity as “doing the right thing even if nobody is watching.” It is that and more. Integrity is about consistency of actions, freedom from hypocrisy (being what you say you are) exhibiting strong character and acting in according to the values, beliefs and principles one claims to hold. Leaders need integrity; they need a sound moral compass. And then they should follow it in the decisions they must make.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

July 2011 - Leaders Must Possess a Sound Moral Compass
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