Leadership based on personal values…. important and rare!

In this time of bombastic, hubris-filled leadership, I was impressed by a powerful demonstration of personal values as a foundation for an important leadership moment last week on the floor of the U.S. Senate.  At the end of the impeachment trial, Senator Mitt Romney, (Rep. Utah) spoke powerfully in the senate chamber about his personal vote and how his personal convictions lead him to that decision.  Please note that I have never voted for Senator Romney, and historically felt that I was on the “other side” of the political landscape from his views.  With that said, I found his words and actions extremely poignant, courageous and inspiring to me as a U.S. citizen and as a business leader.  The following are few excerpts from his comments that really hit home to me personally:

As a Senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise “impartial justice.” I am a profoundly religious person. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential. I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the President, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced. I was not wrong. …
But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside. Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience. …

I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced. I am sure to hear abuse from the President and his supporters. Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me? …

Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence. I am convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character. As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction. We have come to different conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience. …

My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate. But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me. I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial. They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong. …

We’re all footnotes at best in the annals of history. But in the most powerful nation on 
earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that is distinction enough for any citizen.

There are a number of points here that I want to highlight, again as a citizen and as a leader:

> Take the assignment seriously:  Sen. Romney realized the assignment to be “Senator-Juror” was “enormously consequential” and he didn’t shrink form the task!  He knew the stakes were immense and with that foreknowledge he proceeded with the work with clarity and rigour.

> We must stay true to our own beliefs:  when he commented that by taking a simple partisan approach to the final vote would “expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience,” he eloquently challenged all of us to a moment of self reflection and critique.  Too often the “popular” idea, or the “expedient approach” rules the day, rather than us as leaders staying true to what we BELIEVE and KNOW is right!  In business as in politics, too often the drive to short term profitability or the need to satisfy influential  investors at the next board meeting eclipse the path that is know to be right in the long term.

Don’t let the consequences sway you from doing what is right:  Today with a week of outburst/threats/angry tweets and aggressive retaliation, Sen. Romney seems understated when he said that he knew that he would “strenuous disapproval” from those from his party and his state, and that he would hear “abuse” form the President and his supporters.  He knew the path was going to be ugly, and yet he stayed true to his beliefs and convictions…. a powerful role model!

> Keep your legacy in mind: He knew his vote wasn’t going to be the deciding vote in the process, and yet he kept his vision on the long-term perspective… his legacy.  he is confident that when he will “tell my children and their children that I did my duty,” he wasn’t focused on the headlines of this week or next, but on the long view of legacy and family.

I deeply believe that powerful leaders are ones whose actions and words are highly aligned , and individuals who consider their impact on business or in politics with a long term/ legacy oriented world view.  I for one an deeply appreciative of Sen. Romney’s courage and his words/actions related to the impeachment process.  As a leader or a wonderful company, I am using this moment to refresh myself on the long view, keeping my “legacy viewpoint” in clear sight and will come back to Senator Romney’s speech often for inspiration in the days ahead … I hope that you do the same!