A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-yo Silver’ – the Lone Ranger! Narrator of The Lone Ranger TV series (1949-1957)
When we were young boys, there was no show like “The Lone Ranger” depicting the exploits of Texas Ranger, John Reid. He was who we wanted to be when we grew up – brave, honest, fit – and he had no tolerance for bandits or dishonest people. He and his equally brave and virtuous companion, Tonto, captivated our generation one night a week, and motivated us to do homework (otherwise we couldn’t watch the show). The Lone Ranger taught us that good trumps evil, the bad guys get punished, and doing the right thing when no one is looking is what good people do.
Now it seems we can’t find any role models of doing the right thing, no matter what profession or occupation we turn to – business, sports, religion, politics, you name it. All we see are bad behaviors, examples of doing the wrong thing whether folks are looking or not. It’s probably a good thing for us that our grandchildren are not of school age yet, because it won’t be easy explaining to them the misconduct and plain old lousy leadership reported on TV (and all of the other forms of media), every day.
So what happened to us? In essence, we allowed our culture to decay, and in doing so turned away from the values Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels portrayed so nobly one night per week in the 1950s. Now we reap the whirlwind. We even question the integrity of our presidential candidates who are often impolite, even crude. Except for Pope Francis (who seems to be a genuinely good and decent man), we don’t know who to look up to any more…
It’s time for the return of values-based leadership, of doing the right thing when no one is looking. One of our mentors used to tell us “it’s hard to roll up your sleeves while you’re wringing your hands.” We need to roll up our sleeves and get busy demanding values in our organizations and among our leadership. Coaches, CEOs, political leaders, and executives in every profession should be accountable, and held to a higher standard. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal (May 27, 2015) cited the sad fact that executive bad behavior not only costs their companies in terms of value, but the even sadder fact was that 65% of them were retained by their companies!
Decide today to commit to the culture of values-based leadership, and begin the journey to establish an environment in your team where doing the right thing is embraced and expected, whether anyone is looking or not. Do you set the standard? What about your leadership team, to include first line supervisors? If not, what are you going to do about it? As Jim Collins writes in his book Good to Great, get people “in the right seats on the right bus” or get them off the bus. Demand accountability, and insist on being responsible. We can all make a difference, and now’s our chance. Bring back the culture of the Lone Ranger. Hi-yo Silver!