Posts Tagged ‘irresponsibility’

Dr. Ned M. RossThe first – and one of less than a handful of people whose lives have intersected with mine in which I’ve seen an unwavering commitment to quintessential leadership – quintessential leader in my life was my dad, Dr. Ned Moses Ross. He modeled quintessential leadership  in everything he was, he did, and he said. (more…)

Dr. Ned M. RossThe first – and one of less than a handful of people whose lives have intersected with mine in which I’ve seen an unwavering commitment to quintessential leadership – quintessential leader in my life was my dad. He modeled quintessential leadership  in everything he was, he did, and he said.

When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate it as much. Now that I’m older, I appreciate it – and my dad – more and more with each passing day.

My dad’s been gone almost 17 years, but his example and the lessons he taught me about what quintessential leadership is and what it looks like in practice have taken root over the years, with those roots getting more deeply entrenched and stronger with time and practice, and have now begun to blossom and bear fruit in my own life.

I wish my dad were here to see that, although it was hard to tell then, I watched, I listened, I absorbed, and I took everything to heart. His experience, his counsel, and his wisdom have permeated my mind, my conscience, and my life as I’ve tried them, tested them, proved them, and found them to be true.

The older me would tell my dad that he was right (the younger me had a hard time admitting that anyone else was ever right) and would never stop expressing my gratitude and my love. That, for my dad, will have to wait for another day, one that I am looking forward to very much.

In the meantime, though, I have the opportunity to pass the lessons on in developing other quintessential leaders. I don’t claim to have mastered them nor to execute them perfectly. But that is a front-of-my-mind-always goal and nothing I think, say, or do isn’t within the context of that goal. That, my friends, is the first step to becoming a quintessential leader.

One of the ongoing lessons my dad taught me was to show respect to everybody. In my words. In my actions. In every area of my life. I can still hear him saying “Be nice to everyone you meet on the way up, because you’ll meet the same people on your way back down.”

Respect can be a complicated thing for us as people and us as quintessential leaders. It shouldn’t be, as I hope to show, since respect is an outward manifestation of our understanding of the brotherhood of humanity and of the integrity of our character, but it can be until we understand the essence of what respect is.

Respect is not tied to our likes or dislikes, our feelings and emotions, nor to what we agree or disagree about.

Instead, it is an acknowledgement that each of us has the exact same value in terms of our humanness – at our most basic structure, each of us is just a little dirt and a little water mixed together, and when death, the great equalizer, comes that is what we all return to, minus the water – and in terms of our purpose and our potential.

Most of the people in leadership positions today lack respect for anyone else. They may show favoritism to their lackeys as long as they support and help them and push their agendas – which are power, greed, and control – but favoritism is fickle and disappears when lackeys are inconvenient or no longer useful.

Respect is not fickle, nor is it tied to what someone else can do for us. That is simply beyond the grasp of most people in leadership positions today. 

respect quintessential leaderDisrespect is in vogue. It is wrapped up in the forms of tearing others down, name-calling, and put downs. It is characterized by people exposing the “weaknesses” of others, ripping those weaknesses – and those people – to shreds, and then the disrespecters exalting themselves to show how superior and better they are than the lowlifes they just called out.

As shameful and as disgusting as this conduct is, those who do it have no shame and no remorse. In fact, with social media, they’ve found a bigger and more public venue in which to flagrantly disrespect other people. As a result, disrespect has become the norm, while respect is becoming harder and harder to find.

A recent example of this pervasive disrespect – and this is a pattern of behavior with this individual – from someone in a leadership position, but who is not a quintessential leader, brought this back to the forefront of my thinking.

Here are a few excerpts from an email this person in a leadership position wrote to somebody he disagrees with:

“…that you remain a congenital liar incapable of telling the truth.”

“You seem to fail to grasp that you were used as a useful idiot…”

“…you were too stupid to realize that you were being used.”

“I have no time for lying fools whose mission in life is to slander and spread division…”

“Take your vomit somewhere else and don’t waste my time.”

I disagree, for different reasons, with almost all that the recipient of this email says as well. However, I would never communicate with this person – or anyone else on the planet – in a disrespectful manner. The person in a leadership position, though, had absolutely no qualms about it. 

As quintessential leaders, each of is responsible for showing respect to everyone and to modeling that to the quintessential leaders we are developing. Since that’s our responsibility, what does it look like in practice?

Not everybody is going to like everybody else. That’s a fact of life.

My dad, I think, came the closest of anybody I know to liking almost every person he ever met. I can think of two people I know for a fact that he didn’t like, and there may be two others, but he never said one way or the other.

I, on the other hand, have a longer list of people that I don’t care for and would rather not have to be within 300 miles of on any given day (and, frankly, the same is probably true for them with me). It’s not that they are awful people or bad people, but our personalities and temperaments are so different that we just don’t sync up on any kind of tangible level.

Given the choice to spend any kind of extended time with them or face a firing squad, I’d most likely choose the firing squad. Both are excruciating, but one is fast and one-and-done. Social pain is difficult for me, so quick elimination – my own – is generally my preference.

However, whether we are more like my dad and there’s almost nobody we don’t like or we’re more like me and have a pricklier personality and temperament, we still are responsible for being respectful to everybody.

We all have emotions and feelings and sometimes we get hurt, we get angry, and we get sad at what other people do to us and say to us. Disrespecting them – revenge and getting even – is our default response tendency as humans.

But quintessential leaders never forget their responsibility to be respectful and to be reminded that we have also hurt, angered, and saddened other people in our travels through life, and we’ve been shown respect, along with mercy and restraint, at times along the way when we didn’t deserve it. We pay that forward. It’s that simple.

As human beings, it’s often easier to find things we disagree on than things we agree on. That, too, is part of life. Sometimes those disagreements are deep and intense. Sometimes they are so fundamental, moral-wise, character-wise, and principle-wise, that they force a relationship between or among people to break – at least for the rest of this temporary existence of physical life.

However, no matter how strong the disagreement, even to the point of breaking relationships for the remainder of our physical lives, we may have with other people, we are still responsible for showing them respect.

I suspect that when this life is done and the next iteration occurs that we’ll all find that all the things we thought we knew were in fact next to nothing (and that little splinter where there was a minute bit of understanding and insight was more wrong than right) and all that we argued over, disagreed over, and fought over was basically a waste of time because none of us got it right.

If that’s the case, then our responsibility for being respectful to everybody else – even if they disrespect us – should weigh even heavier in who and what we as quintessential leaders are.

So how do quintessential leaders show respect? What does it look like?

  • Never personally attack anyone else. You can disagree and be respectful. You can dislike and be respectful. You can experience negative emotions and feelings and be respectful. You can break a relationship, because it’s the healthiest thing to do, and be respectful.
  • Never tear anyone else down. You are not anyone’s judge and jury. You have never value purpose potential equals respectwalked in their shoes, so whatever you think you know about them is not even close to their whole story. Show mercy.
  • Never badmouth anyone to anyone else. This an emotional response to anger, frustration, and impatience with other people. It says a whole lot more about you as a person than it does about the person you’re badmouthing.
  • Silence can be a form of respect, especially when it comes to anyone that we are hard-pressed to find or see anything positive about. Just because we don’t see it or haven’t found it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Silence ensures that we recognize that everyone has value, even if we don’t know personally what it is. It is often the better part of wisdom.

What would you add to this list of what respect looks like?

More importantly, how are we doing?

My sister bought a pet storm door from Lowe’s in Matthews, NC about a year ago. Over time, several parts on the door proved defective. She had a one-year warranty on the door, so about two months ago, she contacted Lowe’s and they sent a contract installer out to fix the door.

He had all the parts he needed except one and told her he would order the part and have it shipped to her house for installation that week. The part never arrived and the many subsequent calls to Lowe’s about the part were a lot of empty promises, but no results.

It's Not My FaultYesterday, I called and asked to speak to the store manager. When he answered the phone, I began to explain the problem and the first thing he said as he interrupted me before I finished was that the store doesn’t do the installations, so it wasn’t his fault, but instead the installer’s fault.

I politely told him that Lowe’s sold the door, so ultimately the responsibility was theirs, so he needed to get it taken care of. He said “I’ll call you right back.”

Thirty minutes later, I called back. When he answered, I reminded him that he’d told me he’d call right back. He was clearly annoyed and said he had just hung up with me ten minutes before. I told him it had been thirty minutes, and the reason I was calling back was this was the same thing that my sister had been listening to in repeated phone calls for about six weeks and there were never any calls back.

I made it clear that the problem had been unresolved long enough and I wanted a solution. I could hear by the tone of his voice that he was irritated, but he told me – which I doubt – that he was on the phone with the installation company, throwing in one more time that the problem was not Lowe’s’ fault. I told him I expected a resolution within the hour.

The installation company’s manager called me about five minutes later. I explained, without interruption, the problem and he told me that he’d get an installer out today if Lowe’s had the part needed in stock. I told him that this was poor leadership and poor customer service and that my sister shopped often at Lowe’s for home improvement items, but there were other home improvement choices within sight of Lowe’s and the odds were good she was going to be taking her future business there. He listened and he got it.

Just a few minutes later he called back and said an installer would be at my sister’s house between 9 am and 10 am this morning to do the installation. I thanked him.

The time frame came and went this morning (my sister had a dentist appointment at 11 am this morning) with noUnquintessential Leadership

‘I counted internally to ten to get my temper under control and then told him politely but firmly that the internal problems of communication, follow-up, and completion of jobs between Lowe’s and the installation company were not my concern as a customer. The door was purchased at Lowe’s and all subsequent work was coordinated by Lowe’s, so the responsibility was his as the store manager. I told him to get it resolved or I would have no choice but to escalate it to the Lowe’s corporate office.

He said he’d call me back once he got it resolved. Not only did he not call back, but he did not bother to call the installation company either. At 10:55 am, while my sister and I were at the dentist’s office waiting for her to go back, the installer called and said he was at the house and asked if anyone was home.

I explained that no one was there and that was why the appointment was scheduled between 9 am and 10 am – he then started making excuses about why he was late (I asked why he didn’t call this morning if he knew he was running late and we could have rescheduled, and he gave me another set of excuses) – so he’d have to come back. Supposedly, he will be here tomorrow morning between 8 am and 8:30 am.

The store manager at the Matthews, NC Lowe’s exhibited pure unquintessential leadership. It is clear that he doesn’t have a big-picture understanding that losing customers affects the company’s profits and when corporate profits fall, stores close and this one could well be one of those that closes and he will be out of work.

Had he been a quintessential leader, he would have done the following:

  • Listened without interrupting
  • Taken ownership of the problem and the solution
  • Followed up with me each step of the way in the process
  • Offered a good-will gesture, such as a store credit or a gift certificate, for all the things that went wrong to retain a customer

As quintessential leaders, we can never afford to have an experience like this one take place under our watches. Everything matters.