Posts Tagged ‘prejudice’

Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz AgeArc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin G. Boyle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The heart of this story is about a first-generation free black man who, through the sacrifices of his parents, was able to become a physician took place in 1920’s Detroit, but it could be taking place right now in 2017 anywhere in America as a new wave of virulent racism, prejudice, and white supremacy sweeps this nation under the alt right rhetoric and “alternative facts” of a new generation of ignorant and fear-mongering groups, who are strongly reminiscent of the KKK and its subsidiaries that swept the country in the 1920’s. (more…)

Paula Deen, in the way she has conducted herself at every step of the way in her current situation, has shown herself to be an unquintessential leader.

First, Paula Deen showed – in case you think this is “no big deal” – herself to be a bully (this falls under the unquintessential leadership trait of bullying) and to have a prevailing lack of personal integrity and self-discipline.

Part of personal integrity is having and demonstrating respect for everyone. Personal integrity also has high standards of conduct and will not engage in – or allow – behavior or speech that denigrates and disrepects another human being. Self-discipline enforces personal integrity.

Second, after Paula Deen had failed on this part of quintessential leadership, although she had opportunities to redeem herself and prove that she was a quintessential leader who made a mistake, but was eager to rectify it and make it right immediately, she continues to show unquintessential leadership.

The first thing a quintessential leader does when he or she realizes they’ve screwed up – and we all do it as long as we breathe for a living – is to correct it and make amends. Matthew 5:25 gives quintessential leadership advice on how to handle someone suing you.

Had Paula Deen been a quintessential leader, she would have initiated a one-on-one meeting with her former employee as soon as she learned of the lawsuit and Paula Deenapologized and asked her former employee how she could make amends to her. Granted that takes a lot of humility, which quintessential leaders also have, but it would have resolved the issue between them and the general public would have probably never heard about it.

Instead, Paula Deen responded to the lawsuit in a deposition that made it even more clear how little personal integrity and self-discipline she possesses. It’s enough to make all of us who are striving to be quintessential leaders cringe most of the way through it.

Her inability to see the seriousness and hurtfulness of her mindset – because how we think is how we talk and act – in her speech and behavior and to accept it as “okay” or “normal” is more proof that Paula Deen is an unquintesssential leader.

Inset statement here: All of us who are Southerners should be cringing as well and putting a lot of distance between ourselves and Paula Deen. Paula Deen does not and will never represent me as a Southerner. We are not all like that. I apologize on behalf of Paula Deen and tell you that her speech and her behavior is wrong, unacceptable, and should not and will not, by me anyway, be tolerated in any way, shape, or form.

After Paula Deen’s deposition became public, she once again had an opportunity to own up and make it right all the way around, as quintessential leaders will eventually do. She failed again.

Instead of taking responsibility and correcting everything on the spot, Paula Deen showed the unquintessential leadership trait of pointing the finger everywhere but at herself. She blamed the South and the time she grew up in as the reason she is a bigot and disrepectful in her treatment of and behavior and speech toward African-Americans.

When that statement became public, Paula Deen yet again had an opportunity to humble herself and be a quintessential leader and take full responsibility and commit to changing herself and making amends.

And, once again, she failed. Her three anemic attempts to “apologize” were not apologies. They did not include a sincere and heartfelt apology where she acknowledged that she was wrong, she needs to and will change, and she will make amends to everybody affected (not just her former employee who is suing).

Paula Deen made it obvious that, in her mind, she stills believes what she demonstrated in her speech and behavior toward this employee and her deposition, but she felt forced to do something to try to save her gig with the Food Network and keep her $17 million dollar brand from imploding.

But there was nothing real, sincere, humbled, or changed behind any of her words. As with all unquintessential leaders, it was talking the talk with no intention of walking the walk.

food-networkAfter seeing these three videos, the Food Network did indeed say they would not renew her contract when it expires at the end of the month.

That was the right thing for the Food Network to do.

And, you know what, I really hope at some point that Paula Deen comes around and understands, acknowledges, really apologizes, makes amends, and makes the changes she needs to make. That’s my prayer for her. She’s got a lot of talent, but a lot of talent doesn’t make you a good person, nor does it make you right, nor does it make you a quintessential leader. 

Now, as quintessential leaders, we need to take some time  to review our own mindsets and how that comes out in our speech and behavior. Do we have personal integrity and self-discipline? Do we care? Or do we just go along with whatever the people around us are doing?

Quintessential leaders set the highest standards for ourselves. And we adhere to them, not when it’s convenient, not when we feel like it, but all the time. Even if it means we’re standing all by ourselves. It’s an act of courage, as indeed our lives are lived by many acts of courage that often swim constantly against the prevailing tide of unquintessential leadership that exists just about everywhere today.

So, let’s be courageous and be the quintessential leaders we say we are striving to be. It’s not the easy path and it’s not a whole lot of fun sometimes, especially when we screw up, but it’s the only way that we’ve committed ourselves to be.

As a Southerner I’ve often had to face some of the challenges presented by Nick Sacco on this thought-provoking blog. But the questions he raises here are bigger than the American Civil War and the stereotypical views of Southerners and Northerners in the United States based on that conflict.

The subject of racism has, over the last twelve years, as someone who led multinational teams in New York City after 9/11/01 – after watching the World Trade Center towers fall up close and personal – and had to manage and counsel in depth understandable anger in juxtaposition to the reality that “not one size fits all” big-picture view that encompassed the multinational team I led and and served, has weighed heavily on my mind.

It weighed heavily on my mind growing up in the South. When I saw prejudice first-hand in my teenage days in blueberry fields in eastern North Carolina, I took a stand against it. I suffered a considerable amount of grief for my stand, but I wasn’t fired. I realized then that those giving me grief simply didn’t understand why what they were doing was so wrong. That, for me, was where I began to learn forgiveness.

We live in a world that divides. As quintessential leaders, our job is to bridge the divides as we are able. However, we must never compromise nor sacrifice the heart, soul, and mind of what quintessential leadership entails to effect a false or temporary or meaningless peace.

We must exercise the wisdom, the discernment, the understanding to know the difference.

Exploring the Past

… or simply racist? It is clear that the legacy of the Civil War is still with us 150 years after the first shots were fired. For all of its poor word choices and cringe-worthy moments, Brad Paisley and LL Cool J’s song actually provides a glimpse into something quite revelatory. Memories are created, not self-evident. Oftentimes the memories we create about our past are used as coping mechanisms to make sense of events in our past that make us feel bad about our history and our ancestors who may have been complicit in perpetuating that history. Sometimes the goal of our memories is to also forget the past, as evidenced in the lyrics “let bygones be bygones.”

There are other interesting word choices in the song as well. The statement “Caught between Southern Pride and Southern Blame” is something many white Southerners have had to address at some point…

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I plan to make this a weekly feature on this blog, beginning with today’s post. I’ve done this type of post a couple of times already this year, breaking a story or two down in detail.

However, beginning with this post I will summarize the stories – some you’ve heard and some you probably missed – and give a big-picture statement about the the failure of quintessential leadership in each of them, and then invite you, as quintessential leaders, to do your own more in-depth analysis about the quintessential leadership failure aspects of each of them.

I do this because the heart and core of who I am is a coach. My role as a coach is to highlight and guide, but I firmly believe that each of us must actually put some effort into the analysis, the learning, and the application process to fully benefit from it. We’re on this journey to become fully quintessential leaders together. Therefore, we must all be engaged and participating in the process. I invite you to join me in meeting that goal.

The first story of unquintessential leadership that caught my attention this week was the FBI sting that left 10 Atlanta police officers facing corruption charges, when it became clear that they were accepting large sums of money from street gangs to provide protection during drug deals. Law enforcement is entrusted with protecting those of us who obey the laws – local, state, national – and removing those who don’t – street gangs and drug dealers certainly are among those – and this is yet another example of that trust and trustworthiness being broken.  That is unquintessential leadership.

For a detailed and in-depth discussion of the components and traits involved in building trust and being trustworthy, please purchase my eBook, Building Trust and Being Trustworthy. You can also purchase a paperback copy from Amazon or a Kindle version.

The second story also involves law enforcement – Chris Dorner, who was terminated by the Los Angeles Police Department in 2009, and took a resoundingly unquintessential leadership route to protest what he believed was an unfair and unmerited – which it could well have been – termination. It doesn’t take much, from a big-picture point of view, to see how this is unquintessential leadership. Any claims that Dorner had about bias, prejudice, and mistreatment during his tenure and in his termination from the LAPD (he laid this out in a very coherent, well-organized document that shows this was an intelligent, sane man talking) were erased by how he chose to force the issue: with threats, murders, and hostage-taking. Eventually it cost Chris Dorner his life – who didn’t know that would be how it ended? – but if there were any real problems that he wanted addressed and corrected, no one will listen or do anything about it because the last actions of his life seem to support his termination.

Beyond the obvious – I do hope the obvious is obvious – what can we learn from this about how we resolve issues and about how our methods need to be consistent with quintessential leadership? It’s important to remember that not every issue, dispute, or disagreement is win or lose, with no in between. Some are. But those involve moral foundations and principles and are non-negotiable under any circumstances.

But for the everyday issues, disputes, and disagreements we deal with, are we able to see that a draw is sometimes quintessential leadership in action? The “how” we do something matters as much as the “what” and “why.” Are you the kind of person who draws a line in the sand about absolutely everything? If so, you’re not a quintessential leader.

I urge you to take some time to think about this in your own lives. I have seen many people with legitimate whats and whys go down in flames because of how they tried to address and resolve them. On the other hand, I’ve seen just as many people who had absolutely no basis for their whats and whys – in in many cases, were completely on the wrong side of everything – prevail because of how they dealt with them. Both of these are the extremes, but it should be a lesson for us.

Another story of unquintessential leadership this week involves a company. Carnival Cruise Lines failed all leadership tests this week with their handling of the result of an engine room fire on Carnival Triumph earlier this week. The right – and quintessential leadership – action would have been to send some means of rescue (ferries, another ship with support to do the transfer, etc.) out immediately. Carnival Cruise Lines didn’t do that because of the cost involved. Their greed – as well as their belief that their industry is “bullet-proof” – underlines the lack of quintessential leadership at this company.

I read a statement from Carnival Cruise Line CEO Gerry Cahill this morning and if I were on the board of directors for this company, he would have been terminated right after this statement: “We pride ourselves on providing our guests with a great vacation experience, and clearly we failed in this particular case.”  Failure was simply a matter of not providing a great vacation experience? Mr. Cahill is an unquintessential leader in action.

Another continuing story of unquintessential leadership this week are the Armed Services Committee confirmation hearings on Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. The “politics-as-usual” circus surrounding this highlights how much of a lack of any quintessential leadership there is in American politics. But freshman senator Ted Cruz of Texas brought the unquintessential leadership spotlight on himself this week during the hearings. Read the story. This is not quintessential leadership. Period.

And the last story of unquintessential leadership that I’ll point out today is the story of Oscar Pistorius. You can read the story if you don’t know it already. Any time I hear of athletes involved in incidents like this, my first thought goes to overinflated egos – an unquintessential leadership trait. My second thought goes to the rampant use of performance-enhancing drugs among professional and Olympic athletes, which is illegal, unfair, and wrong – also unquintessential leadership traits – and the emotional and hormonal side-effects of those drugs, which can contribute to actions like these.

Ultimately, though, the full responsibility for this falls solely and completely on Oscar Pistorius. If he took performance-enhancing drugs, he knew the risks, and he made the choice. All the tears, shaking, and “strongest denials possible” won’t change the fact the he is responsible for every choice he made – including this one.