The King vs. the CaptainOne of my favorite columnists is Peggy Noonan. She is a great writer with keen insights. In this past weekend’s column – The Captain and the King, Ms. Noonan hit a true home run. Today’s world seems to be driving toward a few actions:

  • We want to be liked, so we will do and say what’s needed to be liked. This is true from being a teenager to a parent to leading an organization. We want to be a part of the crowd, even (sometimes) if it comes at a reputation cost.
  • We want to go viral. The more outrageous, the better. It provides an opportunity to gain the 15-minutes of fame early and, potentially, often. From individual web postings to TV shows to rancorous actions, shock is the objective.
  • More self-centeredness. In some ways, it seems we are becoming more self-centered but in a connected way. This is a conflicting approach, but one which our current social media world enables.

This trend needs to stop. As Ms. Noonan points out, we need to go back to some fundamentals of rising above the norm and doing more to make ourselves better. We need to serve a higher cause and mission.

“But it’s a great mistake when you are in a leadership position to want to be like everyone else. Because that, actually, is not your job. Your job is to be better, and to set standards that those below you have to reach to meet. And you have to do this even when it’s hard, even when you know you yourself don’t quite meet the standards you represent.”

Ms. Noonan’s column brings together what happened with the captain on the USS Enterprise with the movie The King’s Speech. Having seen the movie this weekend, what a movie it is. Many solid illustrations of leadership appear which includes rising about oneself and our fears to do something for a higher reason. Very different than the Captain Owen Honors‘ story.

How often do we rise up, rise above situations?

As leaders, sometimes, we try too hard to be “one of the team” while at other times we may try too hard to be harsh or demanding. Balance is needed.

As individuals, we try too hard to be a part of the “in crowd” while other times we may pull back too much from participating in our communities. Balance is needed.

Essential through each is our reputation, our honor and dignity. As important is keeping ourselves to a higher standard, to do better and be better.

It is a choice we make.

What do you think we should do to ensure we set the standards, rather than succumb to “just doing anything” to gain attention or being liked?