In September of 2016 the world was shocked by the Wells Fargo Bank fraud scandal which involved its employees setting up fraudulent accounts in order to meet the company’s aggressive sales goals (Ochs, 2016). As a result of the actions of these employees, the bank had to pay for a $110 mi-llion settlement which was negotiated with customers nationwide and pay $185 million in fines to federal regulators (Ochs, 2016). We all want more ethical behavior by employees and organizations, and Kenneth Cashman provides an interesting response to this need. Cashman proposes that we ensure that we are better, and more ethical and authentic leaders. Cashman, in his text Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life, provides insight with regard to unethical behavior, such as that which occurred at Wells Fargo, and contrasts this with real leadership.

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Cahsman presents several tools and concepts to present some basic principles, the main one which is that morality and ethical behavior in workers and organizations begins with leaders who practice morality and ethical behavior. In other words, leadership from the inside out begins with how one conducts one’s own self and decision making. The personal ethics involved in good leadership require understanding one’s own personal missions and values, continuous improvement of one’s character and skills and coaching oneself in order to achieve higher levels of leadership and personal competence and skills.

Cashman suggests that in order to be a good leader, one must be able to identify one’s real personal mission and values. This goes beyond embracing the organizational mission and values, and looking inside oneself to better understand the philosophy and beliefs which are drivers. Starting points for this are The Six Points for Authentic Interpersonal Mastery and The Leadership Growth Plan (Cashman, 2008). The first helps anyone to better understand their authentic self, which can be a great difficulty as it requires getting past personal defenses and barriers.

The process of self-questioning raised points for me regarding the differences between how I present myself and what I believe about myself. The Personal Growth Plan takes this further by encouraging a plan of personal continuous improvement. Just as with organizational goals, self-direction is needed in order to achieve new personal milestones. I realized an insight which is significantly changing my approach, and that is the fact that I cannot expect more from others than I expect from myself. I have started exercising the principles that I want to see in other people. This is part of my ongoing action plan. As Cashman points out, before we can begin to lead others, we must be able to lead ourselves. Understanding and improving oneself are key components.

An insight that I had while reading Cashman’s book is that I spend more effort on presenting my messages and interests than I do to listening and understanding the messages of others. I tell myself I am a good listener because I am open to listening to different perspectives from people of a walks of life. I realized that this was not helpful, since to grow as a leader I need to determine those aspects of my behavior that do need to change rather than take pride in what I have achieved. There is an analogy to product improvement in that defining what makes the product successful does not lead to the necessary changes which result in an even better product.

Cashman believes that by spending more time managing ones energy instead of one’s time, one can accomplish more with creativity and innovation. Cashman refers to this productivity approach as Resilience Mastery. Resilience Mastery is the ability to focus on having an abundance of passion and energy, and having an abundance of passion and energy leads to growth, authenticity and more ethical behavior that is aligned with goals. I found this to be an area of opportunity for myself. it has been hard to balance work, school and home life. I am not always successful in maintaining my energy for all three, despite finding ways to schedule and plan how I will meet the needs of each area. I plan to incorporate the author’s recommendation of taking breaks throughout my day to connect my mind-body awareness, promoting healing and energizing my inside-out competencies. Action Mastery, or doing what needs to be done in the way that it should be done, leads naturally from Resilience Mastery.

Cashman’s text helped me to understand the relationship between reflection, self-analysis and leadership. Through reflection we begin to understand ourselves and our interests, priorities and even our weaknesses. Self-analysis helps us to understand and take action that helps to use our strengths. Further, it provides the information that we need to improve on our weaknesses. By better understanding myself, my subjectivities, my preferences and my values I am in a better position to improve as a person and a leader, and this will result in improved direction and role modelling for those who take direction from me. Developing a personal mission statement, a growth plan and communicating my authentic messages and self are new tools that will help me in my pursuit of the character and abilities needed in order to become a better leader. By taking these to heart I can ensure that my future does not include employees who take unethical actions to meet the goals I set for them, because I will be more aware of what is possible and feasible, and I will have a more trusting relationship with employees.