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LEADERSHIP IS A PROCESS OF SOCIAL INFLUENCE, WHICH MAXIMISES THE EFFORTS OF OTHERS TOWARDS THE ACHIEVEMENT OF A SHARED GOAL.
Sunday, August 08, 2010
Hewlett Packard’s Board of Directors demonstrated recently that if you violate HP’s Standards of Business Conduct (SBC) you can lose your job, even if you are the chairman and CEO.
Mark Hurd, who had served as HP’s CEO for the last five years (and chairman for four years), resigned at the Board’s request after an investigation concluded he had engaged in inappropriate behaviour that violated HP’s SBC.
Just as leaders don’t get a free pass when they miss performance goals, there ultimately isn’t a free pass when ethical standards aren’t met. Trust is essential in sustaining business performance. Leadership without ethical behaviour is a failure of leadership.
So when Hurd wrote some time ago in the SBC’s preface that “We want to be a company known for its ethical leadership….” the problem wasn’t that the standard was too high to meet. The issue is Hurd wasn’t engaged in making real what that meant for him.
His message in the preface continued: “Let us commit together, as individuals and as a company, to build trust in everything we do by living our values and conducting business consistent with the high ethical standards embodied within our SBC.”
Tone at the top only counts when leaders use words that they believe in enough to live.