As accomplished professionals, we understand the gravity of what leadership means. People we care about depend on our leadership. People we don’t know are affected by it. Our decisions can influence the course of history, even if in some small way. Everything we do as leaders is tied to other lives. This means every crucial mistake we make can have devastating consequences. Not only can we cause discouragement to others, but we can disrupt other people’s time, finances and relationships.
If we didn’t already know that to be true, we can just look at examples like Lance Armstrong. He is a man that has inspired people around the globe. Because of his leadership, many people put time, money and support behind his success for years. It is the most troublesome situation to see him fall. He now admits to having cheated during his career by using steroids. Not only has this lie been a burden to him for years, but now he is disappointing so many people that believed in him.
While this low point offers Lance an opportunity to rise from the ashes, the damage cannot be undone. What is saddest is that no one expected him to be perfect. They just wanted him to be real. Isn’t that true of all leaders? It isn’t winning every game that we covet in our role models, it is persistence. It is vision, honesty, fighting for what is right and never giving up that makes leaders so brilliant in our eyes. If only Lance could have seen that, so much pain could have been averted. If we’ve learned anything from Lance or our own experiences, it is to always be an ethical leader.