Coming Down from the Mountaintop IV: The Importance of Image and Trust

In our last post, we began to analyze Moses’ response to the threat that God had made to destroy the Hebrew nation. The leader implored his Maker to view the people as “His” (rather than Moses’) and take personal ownership for their misdeeds.

Moses did not stop there. He reminded God, so to speak, about the implications that His decision would have on His own glory. He spoke of the negative impression that such an action would make on the Egyptians, a nation that God had recently pummeled into submission after years of defiant oppression. The desecration that this would cause would be enormous, particularly in the immediate aftermath of the exodus from Egypt. Moses also questioned how such a decision was feasible, considering the many promises that God had made to our holy forefathers about the perpetuation and innumerable growth of their offspring. To go back on His word at this point was inconceivable.

Not surprisingly, God accepted Moses’ advocacy and retracted His threat.

The latter two arguments listed above offer additional insight into how leaders ought to be thinking when considering their roles and organizations:

    • Build and maintain a stellar image.

    Image and reputation are very important components of an organization’s profile. They frame how people think of and relate to the organization and its leadership. Relationship building, trust and openness are all crucial in building a positive image, as is the deliverance of a solid, desirable product. Sadly, it does not take much for those efforts to come unhinged. Often a primary contributor to negative imagery is one or more organizational decision and/or policy. This is particularly true in our time of instant, anonymous and unabashed commentary via social media portals. Invariably, organizational leaders are forced to make difficult choices. This may include personnel decisions, as well as matters affecting operating policy. Obviously, leaders cannot shy away from such processes. But they must be exceedingly cognizant of the implications of their decisions (even some of the most “innocuous” ones – particularly when they challenge preexisting history and culture) and careful to present them in the most positive, transparent manner possible. The last thing that we want to do is to provide others the opportunity to question our decisions and, worse yet, our character.

      • Be true to your word 

      Our promises must be held sacred, especially when the future recipients are most worthy of what they had been offered. To go back on our assurances places our integrity into question and creates legitimate questions about whether we can be trusted. Invariably, there will be times when we cannot keep our promises, such as when we unexpectedly encounter worsened fiscal realities. Still, our employees and constituents must know that our word is golden, and that we are people of great personal integrity. Trust and honesty are the basis of all solid relationships.
      • Advocate even when they’re wrong.

      Moses demonstrated an intense desire to advocate for his people, even though he was keenly aware of their failings.

      As leaders, it is our job to advocate for our people, even when we recognize their errors. To be sure, nobody within our organization can be above reproach or consequence. But when we stand up for them nonetheless, we demonstrate a deep feeling of care, concern and support. When people know that you have their back, they become more loyal and more willing to go the extra mile to correct past errors and perform more positively moving forward.