I have long dreamed about doing some things that I keep, well putting off. Not discarding the dream of doing them, just saying I will get to that activity, later. In some cases, later is 30 years now. A couple of the dreams I have discarded. I once thought I wanted to learn how to fly, but I’ve realized that my love is water so flying doesn’t really mesh. I do want to learn how to be a better boater, so I am taking lessons and learning. I consider that dream to have morphed over time rather than me throwing one away and starting over.
Now, why bring this up? Am I, an epic failure because I have unrealized dreams? No. I have many dreams I have realized, exceeded even expanded radically and still exceeded. All of us have dreams and in those dreams are the seeds of where we want to be. That is why ethical dilemmas make me uncomfortable. I don’t want to ever compromise my dreams just because the option or choice pushes me into an ethical conundrum.
Ethics are critical. I had the opportunity to work for two gentlemen when I first moved to DC that both represent simply amazing levels of ethics. Their adherence to, almost devotion to ethics was simply amazing. I learned so much from them. One of the things they taught me was about dream enablement. There are ways as a leader to enable dreams. There are ways as a manager you can squash those dreams.
Accidental dream killing happens all the time. It isn’t meant to be anything other than an accident when it happens and sadly it does happen. Intentional dream squashing is a different manner and borders on an ethical issue. If, you enable someone to pursue their dream you are bound to that dream as well. If they fail, it is also on you. So the ethical responsibility is to enable, support and help that dream come to fruition.
That means when you open the door, you have to leave that door open and help the person figure out how they can get through the door. Enable, empower, embrace. The 3 e’s of ethics. If I enable your dream, I need to embrace your dream and empower you to succeed. Say my dream is to be a manager. I want to lead a team. How do you enable that? Well simple right, give me a team. That seems pretty easy. How do you empower me as a manager? You give me projects for myself and my team to accomplish. First time manager, let’s create a white space management role. Except the reality is, there is a reason why white space is white space. So I have to embrace the new manager and extend their abilities by empowering them with knowledge.
Ethics is a teaching situation. All of us spend our lives learning the vagaries of ethics. In order to hit the three e’s, we have to embrace the person’s current skills. We have to empower their dream, and enable the skills they need to succeed.
Repeating the same things over and over, doesn’t in the end create the right environment for success. When you enable a dream to fail it’s on you not the dreamer. Help that person by the 3 E’s and you will empower them to help the next person along. There is a great meme, you are not a leader until you have produced a leader that produced another leader. You also have to empower, embrace and enable the dreams of the people for you. If you yell at them, be sure clear why you are yelling. If they do a good job tell them. If they don’t understand it is your job to teach them. By the way great leaders notice when people don’t understand. Nodding your head and trying, means the leader inspires you. Failing, despite your best efforts often means you don’t understand. A leader steps in and says “there are other ways to solve that problem let me show you.”
You see ethics binds you to what you do. The 3 E’s are a model to apply your ethics to tomorrow. Helping others, help others is the most effective leadership tool ever.