Why Go Along to Get Along Isn’t Effective Leadership

Regardless of organization, many in leadership roles embrace the “go along to get along” philosophy.  The problem with this belief is it demonstrates a lack of effective leadership.

Effective is doing the right thing.  In doing the right thing, leaders must first know what the right thing is. This knowing suggests the leader has strong personal ethics and is not willing to concede those basic core principles.

The Hollywood movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was all about the “go along to get along” philosophy. This fictional story though really non-fictional revealed how basic core principles take a dramatic hit when the “go along to get along” belief is embraced.

Lately I have witnessed a lot of “go along to get along” behaviors by local government leaders especially.  No one wants to rock the boat, to challenge the status quo.  So they sit like little bobble head dolls nodding their heads in agreement (go along) because they want to get along.

Some may remember one actress who won an academy award state “you really like me.”  The desire to be liked is inherent in most individuals as human beings are social creatures.

However real progress does not happen when everyone thinks the same way. Disruption is needed. Disruption will upset some people.  Leaders must have the fortitude to handle those upset people.

One impediment to effective leadership is a misplaced sense of loyalty.  Leaders sometimes are loyal to an organization or to one or two people.  They fail to understand where they should place their loyalty.

We witness this misplaced loyalty among politicians who are loyal to each other or to special interests. Then there are business leaders who are loyal to their shareholders at the expense of their customers.

Another impediment is the inability by those in leadership roles to provide constructive criticism without personally attacking others.  If some leaders had greater emotional intelligence, improved negotiation and communication skills, they could effectively communicate a “disruptive idea” without others being offended.

Effective leadership always returns to doing the right thing.  So the next time you are in a position where you as a leader (and we are all leaders) are considering “Go along to get along,”  remember to ask yourself what are the “right things” you are sacrificing? 

 

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