Yes to all. All of the above. Who could disagree? Certainly not the leadership development sub-industry.
We want the good guys, well behaved, morally sound, positively visible and value speakers/value presenters/value behaving, at the top. I have no problem with this. When I have a problem is when we stop the conversation there, and we all go for a walk as if the engagement of the other 14980 people in the company depended on that.
Stop looking up. Look sideways, a bit down. What matters is the social copying of each other in the day-to-day, transversal, horizontal, peer-to-peer, tribal organization. And that may or may not correlate with ‘life at the top’. Nobody says the top does not count. What I say is that it is often an alibi for management inaction. A not terribly functional top leadership is often blamed for not terribly functional operations even if these two do not have anything to do with each other.
A healthy organization is one where the top is a model, yes, but life does not depend on it. Usually, in a large or medium organization there will be several layers of leadership and management. All of them count as much, if not more. How 100 supervisors behave may be more crucial than the 10 guys at the top.
What happens at the level of what the Edelman Trust Barometer calls ‘people like me’ is what shapes organizations. ‘People like me’ (peers, colleagues, mates, tribe members) represnet the highest source of internal trust. It’s the day to day interactions at all levels that shape a culture, not the powerpoints from the leadership team.
Looking up all the time is a distraction, a diversion, a convenient out of focus that is used to explain everything, even if ‘the explanation’ is here and down, say, at managerial and supervisory level.
And another thing, looking up too much will also give you chronic neck pain.