Some leaders risk it all: They trade the fortune of their soul so the ego may have its souvenirs.

The transactions occur daily: Employees say and do things in anticipation that they will receive something of equal or greater value in return. But the deals are bad.

Here are 7 popular day trades made in workplaces everywhere:

  1. The trade of character for status: “If I say what my boss wants to hear, rather than what the business needs us to talk about, then she’ll like me.”
  2. The trade of honesty for reputation: “By twisting the facts like so, we’ll protect our team from management’s spotlight – and the blame will fall on someone else.”
  3. The trade of one team for allegiance to one person: “My boss doesn’t want us talking to anyone outside our function, unless he’s sanctioned the discussion.”
  4. The trade of authenticity for promotion: “The people who get promoted here act, sound and look like this, so that’s who I need to be.”
  5. The trade of growth for the perception of security: “If I just do what I’m told (and nothing more) and nod my head in agreement, eventually I’ll get a new role and someone else will have to deal with these problems.”
  6. The trade of integrity for popularity: “I realize this goes against the grain of how we want to do business but think of the doors it will open!”
  7. The trade of values for short term profit: “I know the way they treat others is inexcusable, but removing them would create a storm.” (Translation: They’re hitting their numbers.)

In the small moments of each day these trades seem harmless. Many professionals aren’t even aware they are day traders. And some who are conscious of their transactions claim this bartering system is required to succeed.

Which brings the moment of clarity: Succeed at what?

If success is defined as getting to a position of leadership but having no soul when you get there—okay, we understand your values. Or if success is choosing a money-dependent lifestyle but losing your soul in the process—okay, again, we know what you value most.

But if success is knowing you are being your best as a human then there is no day trading of the soul worth the trinkets or cheap ornaments others collect over their career.

We are in desperate need of leaders with soul. Make good trades today.

Epilogue: An organization to which we’ve just been introduced has reached a tipping point: Too many employees are making bad trades. When a deficit of character is too grand, those who are unwilling to trade their values leave, taking their talents with them. I’ve seen this before. (We all have.)

What is worth remembering: The vast majority of employees in the organization being referenced want to make better trades. They want to be great people. Leveraging this wisdom sparks a transformation.



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