The group I was in the other day was asked by the facilitator “are you for or against Trump?”. Yes, I replied, I don’t think you can be benign about him. Some people feel angry, not just in America, but everywhere.
Anger creates reactions and high interest when we see it. It has a place when our ethics are seriously undermined, or behaviour around us deliberately sets to undermine us or our organisation. It can create fear and further anger if not contained. But anger is not rage which is uncontrolled, scary and shouldn’t be in our toolkit.
What to make of Trump I often think. He seems like he’s in an uncontrolled rage much of the time, although we don’t see it directly expressed, other than in the middle-of-the-night texts. The administration he leads seems fueled by rage – rage at minorities and those that support them, at political opponents, at other countries, the FBI and Special Counsel – and so on.
You could argue that he’s standing up for what he believes in. Despite that proposition being very difficult to determine (I originally wrote laughable here!), it’s not authentic leadership by any stretch. Authentic Leadership requires empathy, a strong ethical compass, firmness when needed, and nurturing those that need support. Not abandonment and undermining.
Actually the title is an oxymoron. But we’re seeing a lot of blaming in political leadership. Trump is an obvious example. Started his campaign for US President by blaming Mexicans for real or imagined woes. The solution was a wall. Almost daily he seems to have crises that are to be blamed on others – staff, the Democrats, the media is popular – without any sense of personal responsibility.
There’s actually two sorts of blaming that Trump is involved in. The first is blaming groups of people for societal problems. The second is blaming groups of people or individuals as the case may be, for day-to-day issues.
The former is the most serious and we owe it to ourselves to be constantly vigilant to protect our freedom and democracy. Trump justified his initial blaming of Mexicans with dubious comments about crimes they have committed.
We have a new government in New Zealand. At the heart of this government is a strong signal that immigrants and foreigners are to blame for transport congestion, house prices and struggling infrastructure. It’s an attractive scenario on the face of it. If we’ve let too many people into the country or let them own assets without properly equipping ourselves for it, then it’s got to stop.
But it’s a very slippery slope. When the Labour Party produced it’s list of Chinese-sounding names of house buyers there was an outrage. Some Chinese families have been here since the early 19th century. But more significantly, it was simply racial profiling, the likes of which we hadn’t seen from a political party since Muldoon’s Samoan overstayer crackdown in the 1970s.
Labour is now as one with NZ First in cutting immigration to fix problems that immigrants have allegedly caused. The solution is not going to be a wall, but paperwork at the border at Auckland International Airport in Mangere.
Now is the time for leaders everywhere to stay vigilant to protect those being blamed.
It’s trite to say that there’s a lot of change right now. I’ve told myself to stop reading Trump news but I can’t. It’s seems every day brings more deconstruction, as Stephen Bannon calls it, of a democratic government. He seems to be quite reclusive, probably an introvert and if you read what he has to say about the state of the Western World he’s very hostile to immigrants, trade agreements, non-Christians, non-whites, the LGBTQ community. Anyone unlike him.
According to Wikipedia “Bannon was a founding member of the board of Breitbart News, an online far-right news, opinion and commentary website which, according to Philip Elliott and Zeke J. Miller of Time, has “pushed racist, sexist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic material into the vein of the alternative right“.
I’ve been wondering how a person ends up that. You might also wonder how he ended up as the right hand person to the US President. But that’s not what this is about.
Fear. Bannon is scared. Living through all that change and feeling forced to accept progress and equality when you believe they are poisonous. So now it’s revenge and trying to change the world to stop being scared.
And you thought that Trump feeding his insatiable ego was bad enough.
Change can be scary and leaders should be ready to understand, confront and allay fears. Especially now.
The notion of a Christmas for peace and tolerance is lacking in world affairs. What were once expressions of wise leadership are expressions about controlling others and rule by dogma, supported by special interest groups (to put it neutrally) including white supremacists, Evangelical Christians, billionaires etc. If you were religiously minded the phrase “unholy alliance” must come to mind.
I wonder why people are voting for autocratic leaders. Leadership isn’t for everyone and for some people, even self leadership is a challenge. Which is why leaders have such a privileged position of responsibility for creating meaningful dialogue, compassion and to treat others fairly. But what happens when enough of the population votes for something else? Voting, it seems, to treat minorities whether because of poverty, religion, sexual orientation or race as exceptions to the norm who can be ignored at best, and at worst, ridiculed. Something has broken down.
It’s complex – there’s globalisation, economic malaise for many, refugees, terrorism – but surely this is the time to call on the best that we all have and what some people say Christmas is about – tolerance, which for the Christmas story is about protecting a homeless child and caring for a new, possibly single, mother – not turning a blind eye or worse attacking those who seem “different“.
Special interest groups including religion have long held a seat at the table of power. I hope those special interest leaders use their new found power to promote tolerance, liberty and compassion. I’m not holding my breath.
It does make me realise how fortunate we are in New Zealand. It’s easy to forget. Summer too. I hope you’re having a good Christmas with those important to you.
You might think that if you’d just won the election for the most powerful position in the world you’d be reasonably content (assuming that’s what you wanted). Recently, Donald Trump appeared to get angry because people at the musical Hamilton booed his deputy (it’s comical – politician gets booed (that’s never happened before), goes running, upset, to Uncle Donald who in turn demands an apology via an early morning tweet – really!).
In South Auckland, a church leader, Brian Tamaki had a rant about earthquakes being caused by gays. If it wasn’t for the tragic consequences of Kaikoura Earthquake for the victims it might be comical too, tectonic plates et al.
Whatever the leader’s area of influence he or she can’t control everything. Or even want to you’d hope. Control is a necessary resource for a leader to use sparingly as and when required.
These two examples might be ridiculous and even funny. But they’re deadly serious. The leader-elect of the free world endeavouring to bully critics into silence (btw, it’s a democracy). A leader of a church stigmatising and abusing an entire community (and those in support including families) based on sexual orientation.
Angry men out of control have been known to do unconscionable things to get their own way.
Leadership is a privilege. When it’s abused to undermine democracy and freedom in any form we owe it to ourselves to speak up and declare it unacceptable.
When I visited and stayed at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia in 2000 before 9/11 I was issued with an access card to get around the facility. Part way through the stay I mislaid the card. I went to the public reception and a harried receptionist thrust a box of cards at me. “Take what you need“she said, so I reissued myself with a card and carried on. She had no idea who I was, whether I was entitled to be there, whether I should have access or if I did what my purpose was. You wouldn’t have needed a leaker inside to find the secrets of the FBI then!
I assume things are a bit tighter now. It certainly seems that way traveling through LA.
Since the FBI Director James Comey released information that a batch of emails on an unrelated investigation may be relevant to Hillary Clinton (but that he had no actual idea whether or not they were), it’s come out that FBI Agents have been leaking information to the media because they dislike Clinton.
The FBI has always held a special place in the world of law enforcement. It has led and continues to lead, many facets of forensics – in fraud, technology, weaponry – and the physical environment. It has shown itself to be impartial, thoroughindependent and thorough.
That deserved reputation has been built up over decades by thousands of Agents on thousands of case.
That reputation is at serious risk right now, and may be damaged for some time if the allegations of leaking and partiality prove to be true (or even not disproven).
Whatever you might have in your trust bank can unwind a great reputation quickly by hasty actions in the heat of the moment. For law enforcement independence is often the first thing that fails.
Whatever your big thing is, treasure it and don’t give it up for short term gain.
Ryan Lochte has won 12 Olympic medals, making him the second highest US swimming medal-winner behind Michael Phelps. Lance Armstrong ‘won’ 7 consecutive Tour de France races although he was stripped of the awards after he was found to have cheated. Lochte is not a cheat and this blog is not about being a cheat or not.
As best as I can ascertain Lochte and others caused some damage to a bathroom in Rio. A security guard who was armed (and may have pulled his weapon) demanded that Lochte and his friends pay for the damage. Lochte fled and complained to the police that they had been robbed at gunpoint. When the actual facts surfaced, Lochte had left Rio.
He apologised to his teammates and said he was “hurt” that they were left in Rio to deal with the consequences. He says he “over-exaggerated” the situation and insists he didn’t lie.
I heard an interview of Armstrong on the radio the other day. If you listen to him talking about his doping, you quickly pick up that the man has not really come to terms with what he did. Armstrong struggles with acknowledging what he has done: “I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times,” he said. “I’m sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that.”. That’s pretty clear but he also says that without his winning all the cycle races he wouldn’t have raised the profile of cycling to where it is now, nor raised all the millions for cancer sufferers. True.
At our last Authentic Leadership module we talked about the goldfish bowl effect: leaders are magnified the higher up they go.
The weasel words and justification, abstract apologies to select groups or about things you’ve said, do not properly acknowledge the wrong. They are simply part of trying to minimise what you got caught doing.
If you’ve stuffed up, then acknowledge it and apologise. Leave it for others to find the good in what you did.