Watergate: 7 leadership behaviours you should never forget

This next 9th of August it will be 41 years since North American president Richard Nixon resigned because of the so-called “Watergate scandal”. That incident is still remembered, but little is known about the leadership mistakes made in Washington during those years, and which you shouldn’t forget:

1. Lack of ethics

In the world of business, it’s easy to adopt the belief that the end justifies the means, but maintaining a high ethical standard means strong and successful leadership. Getting carried away and justifying crimes by using the “heat of the circumstances” argument is not what good leaders do, and will eventually lead us to failure. Set your ethical standard as high as you can.

2. Incoherence

Related to that, a leader must always be coherent with what he says and does. Nixon’s great mistake was publicly admonishing former presidents and senior officials and then being exposed by the serious accusations that cost him his job. Without coherence, there is no integrity and without integrity, there is no leadership.

3. Toxic team

During his mandate, Richard Nixon contributed to the creation of a “toxic atmosphere” among institutions, including the White House itself and the Republican National Committee. His government was responsible for some good measures for the country, but in relation to the Watergate scandal, many mistakes were made that tainted and poisoned the environment of several organizations, generating an atmosphere of distrust and disloyalty.

«If you want to earn my loyalty then you have to offer yours in return»

4. Losing sight of priorities

Every good leader must set priorities which will help achieve goals. What should never be done is to lose sight of these goals. Nixon’s top priority when he took the presidency was foreign policy. That path took him away from the primary objective of the country at that time, which was obviously national affairs (political division, civil disobedience, etc). The 37th President of the United States paid dearly for that mistake. Leadership must tell personal preferences from priorities that benefit the whole team, so as not to get away from set goals.

5. Delegating indiscriminately

We’ve already told you about the importance of delegating to a good leader. One of the most common leadership mistakes is delegating to “abdicate” on certain tasks, rather than leaving the right tasks to the better prepared people. During Watergate, Richard Nixon decided to leave in the hands of others important matters which required his own action. As a result, his subsequent responsibility in the scandal was attenuated, but his leadership cracked forever. A good leader must protect his people and be on the line of battle, more so when the situation is difficult and serious.

This may interest you: 6 leadership lessons by Abraham Lincoln

6. Isolating

Rumor has it that Richard Nixon was a loner, and his loneliness led to counter-productive isolation. Independence can be positive, but lack of communication is not a good idea for true leadership. Don’t make the same mistake the North American president made during Watergate, and be always accessible to your team, whenever you are needed.

7. Destroying trust

Successful leadership is based on trust. The members of a team will show loyalty to their leader, and will work more effectively the more trust they can see from their leader. During Watergate, few people acted as they preached. Don’t make promises that you can’t fulfill.

What other leadership mistakes do you think should be avoided?

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