A leadership lesson in "can" vs. "should"

Can an executive be nasty, mean and selfish?

Of course, and therein lies an element of leadership that some leaders fail to grasp: the difference between "can" and "should."

Good leaders never tolerate such discrepancies. They know they should hold themselves accountable by working shoulder to shoulder with employees. Failure to do so erodes their influence and ultimately any hope of getting people to pull together to get things done.

When leaders mix up "can" and "should," they fritter away what all leaders must hold most dear: influence.

A leader must be able to influence the course of action in order to be able to develop a vision, stimulate buy-in, rally for execution and maintain the course. One can think of these things, but doing them requires the participation of others.

An executive who cannot distinguish between "can" and "should" is an executive who cannot effectively lead because he cannot effectively influence.

Note: Readers are welcome to download my infographic on the three Cs of influence.

John Baldoni is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2018, Trust Across America honored him with a Lifetime Achievement Award in Trust. Also in 2018, Inc.com named Baldoni a Top 100 Leadership Speaker. Global Gurus ranked him No. 22 on its list of top 30 global experts, a list he has been on since 2007. In 2014, Inc.com named Baldoni to its list of top 50 leadership experts. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including his newest, “MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership.”

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