Recently on Morning Air, John Morales welcomed Dave Durand onto the show to discuss the modern standards of leadership, their state as partial truths and partial goods, and why they ultimately fall short in making a great leader.
Dave is a speaker, author, personal success coach, and co-founder of Decided Excellence Catholic Media, Best Version Media, and Lighthouse Media.
He began the conversation by explaining that though we should never be done with self-improvement, we will at some point reach the height where we are called to be leaders. When we are ready to guide others, we will have to look inwardly to see how to serve others best. Without the right standards, it will be very difficult to lead people effectively. Dave took a look at five standards that modern leaders often exhibit that are actually mistakes and fall short of what we really need.
- Ethics Matter. Why is that a mistake? Surely, ethics matter, right? Well, yes. But it’s a partial truth. In being a leader, ethics should not be the ultimate, guiding principle for your actions. “These are partial truths, even if they’re very good truths,” said Dave. “The thing that absolutely outpunches ethics is morals.” The reason ethics can never be the standard that morals are is that ethics are a nebulous, secular concept that can be twisted for subjective interpretation. While morals can also be manipulated, they have to be formed based on the intrinsic ideas of right and wrong, good and evil. Ethics can be applied at different rates depending on the situation: situational ethics, differing philosophies on ethics, business ethics. Morality, while prone to its own grey areas, deals with what is right and wrong in all circumstances. To be clear, we need both, but morality is king.
- It’s okay to be sloppy with language/attitude as long as you get results. Dave made the distinction between “salty language”, a way of speaking that might not be appropriate around younger audiences, and overtly insulting and explicit language that shouldn’t be used around anyone anytime. Dave used the example of influencers and social media personalities who have found success and fame for the content they make. They realize that because of their position, they can get away with using any type of explicit, blasphemous, offensive language. Dave said that many of these people have a lot of good things to say, but their lack of control with their language implies a disrespect for the decency of others. John recalled that when he first started hosting Morning Air, Fr. Hoffman told him something that has stuck with him ever since: “Words matter.”
- Profit trumps people. Dave began by coming to the defense of businesses, noting that recently, some businesses have come under unnecessary fire simply for making a lot of money, thereby benefiting the stakeholders and executives. Some criticize commerce and capitalism for the sole reason that smart companies are making exponentially more money than others. Dave does not hold this position. Rather, what he is saying is that the driving factor behind business should be to provide good for society, for employees, for vendors, and for manufacturers. As long as you are truly doing that, profit is an inevitable outcome. While profit can often be the trigger for starting a business or getting a job, once you have reached that conclusion, the most beneficial way to operate is with the good of others in mind. Zig Ziglar once said, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.”
- Focus on Self. As Dave pointed out, this movement of focusing on individualism and self-focused ideas has been underway for at least a century, but it has never been more pronounced than it is now. Spawned from this culture of indignation and misdirected independence are these ideas of self-esteem, self-motivation, self-help, and self-care. Out of context, those concepts are noble, but they have become perverted into tools for pretending to be what you’re not. Once one has become so entrenched in themselves and imitating the person that they want to be, they look in the mirror with rose-tinted glasses. They’ve skipped the work involved with curating the necessary virtues to become a leader and an expert and have instead become frauds.
- Cancel what you don’t like. This standard of focusing on self has leaked into the way we deal with others and it’s stagnated our ability to treat people like people. We can’t be afraid to listen to those we don’t disagree with. We can’t be afraid to try new things, venture out of our comfort zones, and entertain an opposing perspective. While not every platform will be available for every person to voice every opinion (just as a board meeting is not open to every employee), the world has closed the door on disagreements of any kind. One half of society is scared to speak for fear of being dragged and the other half of society is scared of hearing those people speak for fear that it doesn’t support their own views.
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