[June 4, 2020] Our time as leaders is limited. We only get to spend so much time in any given position, and we are restricted to how much time we have to accomplish a mission and care for others. This is why an old sergeant, Vietnam vet, and mentor, I knew advised me to use my time properly and to always (emphasis on the word ‘always’) speak with honor.
What he said was full of wisdom. Only later was I to learn more about what he meant when he told me to always speak with honor. His idea was also full of meaning.
“As a leader,” he said, “speak not for yourself but for those you lead.” Treat them with dignity and respect. Have the courage to hold them accountable, but be firm and fair.
Think before you speak (similar to my grandmother Bigmama’s advice) because what you say travels like the wind and never stops. What we say will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another. And always speak the truth to the best of your knowledge. To do so means to never lie to yourself or others. Lying only corrupts the soul and leads to disaster.
“Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody.” – Benjamin Franklin
Speak to the good. Never yield to anger, speak a lie, or ask for favors. No leader can be without flaws and should never attempt to appease others. Have the audacity to avoid the urge to denigrate, abuse, and slander others. Speak fondly of others, and you will forever be remembered as the one who made your family, community, and nation better.
Sometimes it’s more important to stop speaking. Knowing when to talk and when to stop is a sign of an intelligent leader. Listen when it is time to listen and do your best actually to hear what others have to say. Doing so will lighten your leadership burden, elevate your reputation as a kind leader, and encourage others to follow you wherever you may travel.
Speak with honor.