February 12, 2020

Is Decency Relevant Today?


A central topic in leadership research revolves around the effect of different leadership styles; defined as the collection of attitudes that leaders hold close and behaviors they present. Since the turn of the century, several new leadership styles have been proposed to capture important missing nuances beyond the dominant charismatic/transformational and transactional framework.  Make no mistake, every person who directs, influences or manages others is a leader.  Our current President would be described by many as a charismatic leader.  Academics first began studying charisma as a leadership characteristic in the 1970s.  Charismatic leaders articulate an inspirational vision of a desirable future that motivates followers to sacrifice their self-interests and devote exceptional effort to the causes advocated by the leader.

Successful leaders today and in the decades to come must possess a triple-threat of leadership competencies: IQ+EQ+DQ. Most of us are familiar with the first two attributes — intelligence and emotional quotients.  There third quotient, decency, must also be highlighted.  A decency quotient implies a person has not only empathy for others but also the genuine desire to care for them. It means wanting something positive for everyone and ensuring everyone feels respected and valued. DQ is evident in daily interactions with others because practitioners focus on doing right by others.  It deserves consideration when evaluating a leader’s effectiveness.  Every leadership style has a wide spectrum that swings from outstanding to awful.  Even servant leaders can display the wisdom of Jesus Christ or they can be so overbearing that followers are paralyzed.  


Does Decency Matter?  Take a Listen Below:

Dr. Doug Heath  


Ajay Banga, President CEO of Mastercard, coined the term decency quotient to describe his approach to community outreach and other social impact initiatives.  On August 19, 2019, Business Roundtable announced the release of a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation signed by 181 CEOs who committed to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.  Jamie Dimon Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Chairman of Business Roundtable stated, “these modernized principles reflect the business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans.”  Researchers have coined the term “Decency Doctrine” when referring to the document.  


Decency’s relevance is in question because of our current political leaders’ behavior, which in recent weeks has fallen far short of decent.   This past week we witnessed the Speaker of the House literally rip apart the President’s State of the Union Address while the President fresh from a Senate acquittal, publicly trashed everyone outside of his precious electoral base.  Both acts plummeted far below the DQ of their predecessors.  Anyone who dares question the decisions of the President on any social media outlet will find themselves bombarded by single minded supporters of the President.   Our once proud doctrine of free speech no longer applies if you speak against the current administration.  Political adversaries of the past treasured the discourse brought about by their disagreements.  They could disagree without being disagreeable!  Let’s return to the days when the “Golden Rule” guided all of us.    





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