26 Sep 2016

Leadership

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This election year I have written articles suggesting that parents take a look at the leadership examples; the art of leadership. Our children are watching TV and reading. Our children are watching our reactions.

An experienced leader will tell you, when you are in the business of teaching and influencing others there is one term that professionals insist upon. The term is “cite your source.”  Of course that means “where the heck did you get that idea?!” The term cite your source shows that you have performed due diligence; you have made a serious effort to seek the facts and find the truth. You have a discovered a fact-based foundation for the courage of your convictions.

On the other hand, imagine if, in your professional life, you were to stand in front of your boss, your class, your family, or your neighborhood and opine ideas with the sole justification of “some people are saying”! Take a moment. Please imagine that.

Of course you can’t do that. It lacks integrity. Here-say lacks any framework of a proof source. It is childish. It defines your lack of courage and the integrity to stand up and say, this is what I believe to be true, and here’s why I know it.

There are places in the literary world for those who espouse fiction as fact. I, as I’m sure you do, find it somewhat amusing (for about 3 seconds) as we stand in the checkout counter of the grocery store and glare at the headlines: ‘Some people are saying Barbra Streisand is pregnant!’ ‘Some people are saying that Elvis was seen in Miami Beach!’ ‘Some people are saying that aliens have an office in the basement of the White House.’ – ‘Believe me.’

Sadly, this election season we have witnessed a body of fraudulent leadership that has successfully proven if you tell a lie often enough, there are followers who will eventually believe it to be true. – ‘Believe me.’

When a leader hides behind the term ‘other people are saying,’ it’s an attempt to cover up a lie. Another explanation is that the person is just so ignorant of the facts, they make stuff up on the fly. A poor attempt to justify but … still a lie. Some lie so often that, by the time they finish a sentence, they actually believe the idea they know is completely untrue when they began. Psychologists call this pathological lying. Dr. Paul Eckman defines a pathological liar as “one who continues to lie when they know, you know, that they are lying.” He indicates there is ongoing research to determine if this condition is a symptom of or a mental disease itself. In either case, Eckman concludes, pathological liars are not likely to seek treatment or change.

For a long time I’ve wondered why some are so natural, so comfortable lying. New York Times columnist and Republican consultant Josh Barro, recently encapsulated it. Josh said it was a matter of shame. A person who has no shame is free to say anything and everything they wish, regardless of its veracity. All of a sudden I can hear the parent standing over the child saying, ‘shame on you for lying’. The leader who attempts to sell abhorrent lies has no shame.

When it comes to choosing the leader of the free world, leadership, integrity, and courage of your own convictions lead to mature, consistent, and dependable actions. Even more so it’s required. Can you imagine a future president saying, “Some people are saying that I should send the 6th Fleet up the Black Sea. Should I?” As adults we would never under any circumstance follow a leader who asks us to follow them on the basis of “some people are saying”.

I cannot imagine standing in front of my mom, offering this as an explanation of my less than honorable actions. “Well mom …. you see… some people are saying.” Wait – as I remember, I know exactly what would have happened!

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