The death of Walter Cronkite got me thinking about his leadership qualities and how business leaders can take a few cues from "the most trusted man in America."
I posted on Ulitzer about what IT professionals can learn from the legendary newsanchor, and even if you are not in IT, "Walter Cronkite's IT Career Advice" might be an interesting read. But from a purely leadership perspective, Cronkite is a fabulous role model with lots to offer anyone in any management position.
Leaders Set the Tone
Cronkite as a leader of news, created an atmosphere of trust and honesty. His long-time friend and Face the Nation host, Bob Schieffer said, "A leader always sets the tone. That's the most important thing that the leader does. And Walter always set the right tone. He set the right standards."
You can set a leadership tone in a number of ways, but the one Cronkite set was a tone of honesty and integrity. Whether you lead a team or a whole organization, drawing a line in the sand on integrity can only advance your leadership position. What's the tone you set in your company? Think about your next team meeting or All Hands, what can you offer to your teams that is inspirational and reassuring and that let's them see and hear your integrity loud and clear?
Authority Based on Credibility
Leaders with authority and respect earn both by being credible. How did Cronkite achieve credibility and how can you learn from him?
He never lied to us. Never had to retract a statement or say, "Sorry, I got it wrong." He researched his story and got his facts right the first time. As a leader, when you're presenting information, present it the way Cronkite did: fair and objective. When a team consistently sees a leader as someone who does not lie or spin or twist things in their favor, you're on your way to being the most trusted man or woman in your organization.
What a great legacy.