My son is 7 years old and I love him with all my heart but he does have an incredibly annoying habit…
He repeats everything I say.
Over and over and over and over again.
Usually his habit is a mere annoyance, but there are times when it crosses a line and becomes…embarrassing.
This came out the other day when he took it upon himself to yell very sarcastic, very rude, very LOUD words at one of our friends. Being the attentive father that I am, I initially had no idea what was going on, but my wife was mortified at his outburst. She quickly filled me in, we confronted him and this was his justification… “Dad says it all the time.”
I got “the look” and had to explain to my son that even though I’d technically said similar things, I had been joking because we’re friends and it was only funny if it was said in the right way.
By the end of the conversation, several things happened: My son understood he couldn’t say those things, I had apologized to everyone in earshot, and I’d learned a hard leadership lesson.
What leaders do in moderation, others will do in excess.
If I occasionally mutter certain “funny” things under my breath, someone else will shout them at innapropriate moments.
If I slightly bend the rules when it’s convenient, someone else will completely disregard all semblance of order.
If I walk a fine line because I’m perfectly able to, someone else will fall and ruin their future trying to follow.
Leaders must set high standards and refuse to compromise those standards. Ever.
The moment the leader begins bending rules and relaxing boundaries is the moment the organization begins to morally bankrupt itself.
It’s not enough for the leader to shoot for the “bare minimum amount of holiness” possible. Set the bar high because someone is always watching you and trusting you and copying you. And they don’t have the maturity to define moderation.