One of the worst habits leadership can get themselves into is the need to point out everyone else’s faults while making excuses and exceptions for their own. When leadership puts more emphasis on others’ faults and failures, all the while ignoring their own, leadership loses. A good way for leadership to lose credibility in their team is to look at others’ mistakes, faults, or errors before leadership addresses their own. I heard a saying once that went like this, “Don’t come clean my house until you have your own put in order.” This simple statement is a good reminder for anyone, but especially for those in leadership.
Please don’t misunderstand me. This doesn’t mean leadership is expected to be perfect. Rather, leadership should be sure to hold themselves to the same standards they hold others. If your house is dysfunctional, out of order, or lacks respect of any kind, then don’t complain about others who may show the same signs as your own team. If you allow your own team to do nonsense activity and actions, then you have no right complaining when others do the same thing. The hypocrisy you show is a mirror of your own character and insecurities.
I once sat under leadership who would allow for disrespectful and inappropriate actions and conversations to occur during meetings. That leadership did nothing to correct the crew’s behavior, nor did they stand up for what was right. Instead, some of the lower leadership chose to join the inappropriate conversations and behaviors, while others chose to remain silent and say nothing about the crew’s actions. This same leadership then went and complained about another agency’s team member who spoke poorly about said leadership during a mutual aid effort. To be honest, it really doesn’t matter what was said. What matters most is that this leadership chose to hold someone who is not a part of their team to higher standards than they hold their own team.
Leadership that leads with a character of hypocrisy leads nothing more than a house of cards. It won’t be long until their hypocrisy will be their downfall, but more importantly, it will be the lasting impression people will remember most. Being a hypocritical leader does not establish an environment of trust, respect, or integrity. However, I would assume that hypocritical leadership isn’t really leading with any of these qualities anyway.
I want to encourage you to keep yourself in check before you put others in check. If you don’t want your team to act a certain way, then you better not act that way. If you want your team to show specific qualities, then you better represent and be an example of those qualities. Bottom line, don’t call out others’ actions and behaviors if you are doing the same thing you are calling out. Hypocrisy has NO place in leadership.
“Don’t come clean my house until you have your own house in order.”
As always, stay humble and serve well!