WSJ Article: Good Leadership requires executives to put themselves last

April 11, 2010

This is another great example of leadership model by Michael Leven, former chairman and CEO of US Franchise systems, Atlanta, and who owned and operated three hotel brands. Yet, this article is all about integrity. Integrity is my biggest key takeaway from this reading. Leaders, managers, supervisors, subordinates, they all need to know that they are entrusted with confidential information of the company they work for, so they must be honest with themselves and communicate when things are not going in the right direction so they don’t put their integrity in risk and adopt a whistle-blower behavior when they see some dishonest activities within the organization- that is the case with Mr. Leven.

Mr. Leven realized that his company’s “Days Inn” financial performance was not going to meet the standards “projected numbers” due to huge inconsistencies by the owners of his company that were siphoning some funds. Although he was not required by law to communicate the ongoing financial problems his company Days Inn was facing, he did so and made it public. He demonstrated to be a very plucky and capable leader to do the right thing and for those around him- his people and shareholders as he promised to serve well and honestly. He confronted the true and was even able to resign to what once he loved the most, cared for, grew, and had put years into- his beloved company.

Mr. Leven put his self-interests and needs last, he didn’t want to put his neck on the line, made the tough decision to quit to his job, which meant a little demotion to his prestigious professional career and accepted a 25% pay cut.

In summary, this article is a pretty vivid example for future leaders to realize that one day in their professional careers they will be put into difficult situations and decisions and will be challenged in going against the grain, decision that might cost them lose their jobs but will help them keep their integrity and self-respect which in fact it is more important than monetary rewards. So this reading does exhibit a model of integrity that is a learning tool for future leaders.

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