I just starting reading a new book, "Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It; Why People Demand It" by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. So far, it is an interesting read. One item that I found interesting was the piece on Characteristics of Admired Leaders Around the World. The four characteristics measured were Honesty, Forward Thinking, Inspiration and Competence. The US ranked honesty first, forward thinking second, inspiration third and competence fourth. What I found interesting is that the other 14 countries surveyed, three ranked the characteristics the same as the US. They were Australia, Canada and the United Arab Emirates. Singapore ranked honesty last with inspiration first. China, Scandinavia and Turkey had honesty third, with inspiration first for China and Scandinavia and forward thinking first for Turkey.
Personally, I agree with the US ranking, I might quibble with 3 and 4, but feel that honesty is absolutely critical for any leader. A leader has to have earned the trust of those who are expected to follow. In the past, I have fired two executives who were competent, inspiring and forward thinking, but dishonest. They both would tell me what they thought I wanted to hear versus what was actually happening. Also, if they were lying to me, then they were lying to everyone and how can anyone follow someone who is dishonest, especially in a values based organization. I will keep you posted on other aspects of the book, but so far it's a very good read.