You are a leader even if it is not what you want to be. EVERYTHING you do influences other people, and therefore we all have a responsibility to consider what impact our behaviour has on influencing others.
I saw an article yesterday where Nick Kyrgios was being interviewed at Wimbledon by a British reporter about him breaching the dress code for the event by wearing red Nike Air Jordans and a red cap. This is a minor offence in the scheme of the event, in my humble opinion, but it highlights how important it is to consider perceptions as a public figure. Whether you are a leader in your workplace, family or community, it is imperative to consider the impact of your actions on your reputation and also the influence it has on the people around you.
During the interview, Nick states, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right?” and then has an exchange where the reporter is obviously trying to elicit a “newsworthy” response from him. Nick responds with “You just keep doing you champ”, and winks at the reporter. This event occurred at a similar time that news of charges of common assault against Nick as a result of an incident with a previous partner came out in the media.
I am not for a second passing judgement or an opinion on his behaviour at Wimbledon or in relation to the common assault case. I wanted to use these events as an example to all leaders that everything you do and say is always on show, whether that is fair or not. When you are a leader in your business, workplace, or even your family, it is essential to consider the possible repercussions of your behaviour. People may well want to take what you say and twist it, or they may deliberately goad you into a negative response, but this is still your responsibility to be mindful of how it could be perceived.
Working with CEOs, business owners, and senior military/police leaders every day gives me the opportunity to see this play out in so many different environments, and the common mistake I see is leaders not taking the time to consider the impact of their words and actions on their people. Leaders can be seen as simply virtue signalling when they engage in very obviously staged photos and statements about particularly sensitive issues just to garner public praise when their reputation in their organisation is not good and doesn’t match their public words or actions.
I experienced this with a CEO in a particular corporation I worked in a few years ago. When I was interviewed for a position, this person stated how culture was their number one priority. When I began in the company, it was obvious this was definitely not the case. The culture was toxic, and the people within the business felt unsupported and often victimised. That meant there was no confidence in this leader. This is often the case with our politicians as the public doesn’t trust them because of a perceived lack of integrity and selfish motivators.
As a leader, you must be aware that whatever you say and do will be harshly judged by the people you lead. For Nick Kyrgios, the public will judge him for everything he says and does, whether that is fair or not. He is a public figure, and that will bring scrutiny that a “normal” person won’t experience. As a leader, you will experience the same thing. I am very aware that as a High-Performance coach who is active in Keynote Speaking and Social Media, I open myself and my behaviour up to public scrutiny and judgement. Therefore I behave in a manner where I am comfortable with the “front page” test. If anything I do or say hits the “front page” of the media tomorrow, I am comfortable that what I do and say is done with the best of intentions. We all make mistakes, and we can all improve, but if you want to be a leader, this must be front of mind in everything you do.
Nothing is private anymore and. that is just the world we live in. The best way to avoid controversy is to live a life of integrity.