Have you ever hear the statement: “Dream it and you can achieve it!” Has it worked for you personally and professionally? If not, what do you think is the reason for it not working?
Quite possibly, one or all of the following essentials was missing from the process.
The most famous example of a dream that turned into a success was Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Dream speech” in which he spoke of his future vision when people would be defined and accepted by their character instead of the color of their skin. His dream and resultant daily undertakings, while still a work in progress, epitomizes the 3 essentials necessary for sustainable success.
A dream, regardless of the time of day or night, is merely a vision of some past, present or future thought, event or moment in time. The significance of the thought depends upon what happened afterwards – good, bad or otherwise.
If the thought pertained to a desire for the future in the life of the person in whom the thought occurred, but never happened, thought leaders, speakers and writers proclaim the absence of some, if not all, of the 3 essentials, inhibited the success of that dream.
My personal experience affirms that the following 3 essentials are necessary for sustainable success. Early in my life I aspired to be a minister. My Mom politely informed me that I hadn’t been called, which squelched that idea. She would always proudly people in our community that “David was going to be like Mr. Smith.” Mr. Smith was an Accountant and very successful, so I thought that was a great idea. Three semesters of Accounting and I knew that wasn’t my future.
Future studies in business management and leadership, as well as teaching in the Navy, led me to my true purpose in life. Following my Navy career, teaching the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Corps Program, as well as studies in personal and organizational leadership led me to my personal vision and mission – developing leaders who will in turn develop other leaders.
Vision – Importance and Statement Process
A dream requires initiative and action. That action begins with the Vision, which is where you want to take that dream and make it your life’s work. It becomes your purpose in life, or the “Why” of your life. Your Vision becomes your statement of how you want to live your life. If it is a strong, empowering, and motivating vision, it is the focus of your time and energy, your passion, your direction in life. If it truly comes from your heart, it is based on your values and foundational standards with which leads to total fulfillment in meaning of everything you attempt and accomplish (Dodd & Sundheim, 2005). [i]
Author Gordon D’Angelo says everything starts with Vision, that it is the process that brings imagination to creation.[ii] King Solomon, writing in the Book of Proverbs says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.”[iii] The New Strong’s Concise Concordance lists 79 references for Vision. [iv] The word(s) “vision” appears 53 time(s) in 47 verse(s) in Quran in Abdullah Yusuf Ali translation.[v] Likewise, Strong’s Hebrew Concordance lists several references for vision (chazon). Given these exhaustive documented texts, it would be difficult to reason objection to establishing personal and organizational visions.
So how does that happen? Is it the responsibility of the primary leader in the organization? What are the expectations concerning the company vision – every employee automatically accept it and work toward that end? John Maxwell in his 360° Leader says, “Vision may begin with one person, but it is only accomplished by many people.” Maxwell further writes that it is necessary for leadership to champion the vision and obtain the buy-in of every employee so that it becomes their vision as well; it’s about “we”, not “me.”[vi]
According to the New Leadership Paradigm (Spears, 2002), employees want to be involved in the decision-making process. They want to be asked for their input and feel that they are valued.[vii] Therefore, employees should be active in creating an organizational vision statement. Meet with them, consider their suggestions, come to an all-employee consensus as to the wording of the statement.
The organizational vision is how the company is seen, hence believed to be, at some future time, 10, 20, 30 years down the road. Once decided upon, publish it throughout the organization and on the company website and stationery, talk about it, championship it, and get everyone onboard to work toward turning that vision into a reality.
Next step is to figure out how to make it happen. In other words, what will be the personal and organizational mission to make that vision a reality.
The mission becomes your day-to-day activity, your work, the effort put into living your vision. The mission requires several parts working in collaboration to daily improve in skill and expertise. This process also should include employee participation, not only to determine the actual parts of the mission, but also the SMART Goals needed to achieve success toward the vision.
How do you get there? Creation of a personal and/or organizational Mission Statement is the same or similar process used to formulate the Vision Statement. Ask the employees, meet with them, write down their suggestions (brainwashing), discuss them, come to a consensus as to the wording. Once finalized, publish just as with the Vision Statement. Create buy-in by valuing employee contribution in accomplishing the mission, which will turn the vision into reality.
The Mission Statement is not setting SMART Goals, which is a separate process. SMART – Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Realistic; Time restricted – Goals are set throughout the organization. Some will pertain to the entire company, others will be for individual entities within the whole company. Again, this should be done with employee input and buy-in.
Achieving your Mission – Action and Strategy
While it is great to have a vision statement that tells you and other of where you are going in your life, while your vision represents your value system, beliefs, as well as your moral and ethical standards, and while your mission statements specifies your day-to-day activities and business, neither is of value without action focused on the specifics of working the mission.
Action Plans and Strategies require analysis of the SMART Goals, and devising plans to achieve them. For the individual this means working the Goals and planning a strategy for each. For the organization, leadership needs to work with employees to create an action plan to accomplish the goals. This may require extra training for everyone, special mentoring for areas of expertise not totally clear to everyone, and constant re-evaluation of goals to ensure they are directed responsibly and accurately.
A more in-depth reference on this subject matter is John C. Maxwell’s Put Your Dream To The Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It. Two points that I find most helpful is insuring total ownership – is the Dream (Vision) really mine, and personal fulfillment and satisfaction from accomplishing the vision.[viii]
An additional element for success is establishing a personal and/or organizational motto – a short motivating statement or phrase that becomes a constant reminder to all involved of the focus for everyone; individually or as a whole.
My personal motto is “Developing Great Leaders Who Develop Great Leaders.” A second that I use quite frequently to help motivate others outside my realm of authority, i.e. friends and mentees is “Keep The Quest Alive! Additional words such as “Leadership” can be added before “Quest” to apply to a particular situation or action. Likewise, “Keep the Vision Alive! is another that is particular to this article.
Feel free to call or email me with any questions you might have about the statement creation process, or any other aspect of these
3 Essentials Necessary for Sustained Success.
[i] Dodd, P., Sundheim, D., (2005). The 25 Best Time Management Tools & Techniques: How to Get More Done Without Driving Yourself Crazy (Ann Arbor, MI; Peak Performance Press, Inc.), 9-17.
[ii] D’Angelo, G., (2012). Vision, Your Pathway to Victory: Sharing a Direction to a Better Future (New York; Morgan James Publishing), 1.
[iii] New American Standard Bible (La Habra, CA; The Lockman Foundation), Prov. 29: 18.
[iv] Vine, W.E., (1997). The New Strong’s Concise Concordance (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson, Inc.), 692.
[v] Quran Teacher: How to Read the Quran (n.d.). Vision in the Quran. Retrieved on 11/8/2016, from http://www.searchtruth.com/search.php?keyword=vision&translator=2&search=1.
[vi] Maxwell, J.C., (2005). The 360°Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson, Inc.), 64-72.
[vii] Spears, L.C., Lawrence, M. (Ed.), (2002). Focus on Leadership: Servant-Leadership for the 21st Century (New York; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.), 2-8.
[viii] Maxwell, J.C., (2009). Put Your Dream To The Test: 10 Questions to Help You See It and Seize It (Nashville, TN; Thomas Nelson.
Morals. Ethics. Standards of conduct. Corruption. Sexual harassment. Bullying at all levels of society. Open sex on television and in movies. Pornography. Unwed mothers and single Moms. These are all variations of moral and ethical depravity that have lowered the moral standard of societies around the world, especially in the United States of America.
Does situational moral and ethics mean the same thing as a Natural Law standard of morals and ethics? Who sets your moral standard? How does the Golden Rule apply to moral conduct and behaviors?
So what is the “Moral Standard” that governs societies? Is it whatever society will believe and tolerate? Does the concept of “Liberty” that permits and/or tolerates amoral and immoral behaviors set a lower moral and ethical standard? Is there an acceptable moral and ethical Natural Law of humanity that governs how we demonstrate how we act morally and ethically?
Or, do moral and ethical standards become a “living code” of which individual members of a nation’s society can change according to their own maturing value system that results in a lessening of these standards according to the will and pleasures of individuals regardless of the consequences and health of civilization; such as has happened in America and other countries.
Is the increase in – at least 25 exist today – sexually transmitted diseases (STD)(oral, anal and intercourse), deformed infants worldwide, and HIV/Aids a result of the decrease in moral and ethical standards and behaviors? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that Gay, Bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) have higher rates of STD, and that adolescents and young adults, 15-24 years old, account for half of all new STD infections.¹
Is this due to an increase in population or a decline in the moral standards of behaviors among people? A look at the historical value system of moral and ethical standards indicates the latter more true than a mere increase in populations.
Natural Law set the standards of moral conduct among humankind. Aristotle, Plato, Hobbs, Saint Thomas Aquinas, The Stoics, Immanuel Kant and Jesus discussed and proclaimed acceptable moral and ethical standards. Societies down through history have functioned under a standard of morals, ethics, and acceptable civil behaviors. When a societal standard of morality and ethics began to decline, Roman Empire is the most common example, that society eventually ceases to exist.
When discussing morals and ethics, there is much philosophical thought and writing around the “good” versus “evil” (or bad, or others, if you will) as it relates to human beings, their thoughts, actions, beliefs, values and ideals that results in their behaviors as it relates to the good of mankind in general; which includes men and women. A short review shows that “good” behaviors that benefit, improve, or interact between individuals is the preferred behavior. That “evil, bad, other behaviors do not lead to the preservation of societal good for everyone. In each case the argument of subjectivism – i.e. the doctrine that there are no absolute moral values but those that are variable in the same was as taste, or being subjective to some desire or situation or result.
Natural Law is a moral theory of jurisprudence, or justice, which maintains that law should be based on morality and ethics. Natural Law holds that the law is based on what is “correct.” Natural Law is discovered, or reasoned, through the conscious use of reason, and the resultant choice between good and evil. Therefore, Natural Law finds its power in discovering certain universal standards of morality and ethics.²
♦ Plato was one of the founders of the theories of Natural Law, which for him was based on law of reason because the law of reason is the ideal law. Therefore, Plato reasoned that the law of reason is the law of nature.³
Plato rejected the idea of subjectivism about the good. He held that it related more to the possibilities of human achievement. This position would lead one to adhere to the idea that amoral activity that prevented personal achievement would be considered as against human nature.4
♦ Aristotle rejected the subjectivism about the good, holding that what makes it true or good is not that there is a relation to desire, but that it relates to the wholeness or completeness of a being, which depended on that being’s nature.5
Aristotle, in using the law of reason, wrote that Natural Law is nothing else than the “intention” of nature of things expressed through the natural tendency of things.6
♦ Hobbs’ view, while not to reject the subjectivism ideal because humans have common desires, which can include a wide and diverse variety of thoughts and behaviors. However, of these desires, the single most important was about self-preservation, which was his single natural law of good. One can see here that the many pitfalls of amoral activity or behaviors would run counter to the self-preservation principle.7
♦ Saint Thomas Aquinas thoughts and writing on Natural Law developed through his studies of scholars before him, including Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and even other Christian mediaeval scholars. He believes that natural law results from reason that is directed toward the common good.
Aquinas’ idea of Natural Law evolved from the eternal law, which came from divine law. He described Natural Law as “nothing else but a participation of the eternal law in a rational creature.” For him, the most fundamental principle of Natural Law is to do good and avoid evil.8
♦ The Stoics believed that the Natural Law indifferent to the divine or natural source of the law. To them, there was a rational and purposeful order of the universe, i.e. a divine or eternal law. Therefore, rational human beings lived in accordance with the divine law, what in turn was the Natural Law. This stated that actions resulted by virtues.** These virtues were the “good” of society.9
♦ Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative states that one “acts only on the maxim which you can at the same time will to be a universal law”, i.e. a Natural Law (Oxford Guide to Philosophy, 2005, p. 468). Hence, any desire, action, or will to be moral must be in accordance to the Natural Law.10
♦ Jesus and the Golden Rule directs that “We do unto others as they would that you do unto you.” As such, we do morally toward everyone as we would want them morally to treat us. Therefore, ethical behavior is a reciprocal behavior one to another, which deals with “right” or “ethical behavior to and from each other.
As mankind has evolved over the centuries, free will has further expanded to include many thoughts, that, on the one hand, have loosened the boundaries of what is believed to be good, largely justified through the ideal of pleasure, often times negligent in thought of benefit, consequence and good. On the other hand, technology and social materialism has certainly enabled the relaxation of values and the practical application of a virtuous life of good, especially good for all others in the world. These changes in individual thought have come about largely through these technological advances, the entertainment media being a major transporter and justification for behavioral changes, to the point that society today believes that morals and ethical behaviors are right and good if I believe that they are in my pleasurable favor, and I see nothing wrong with such behaviors.
This belief system has further deviated from the moral and ethical value system professed since early times by the great philosophers, which have contributed to the longevity of nations of the world. Furthermore, this deviance has resulted in the increase of health issues, including those cited above, that can only be classified as evil and not for the good of mankind.
In her article of May 24, 2014, Hanne Nabintu Herland: The Moral Deconstruction of the West, Hanne cites several instances where the decline of morals and ethics have contributed to the destruction of societies throughout history. She states, “Decline begins when a civilization ceases to emphasize the very ideals that initially resulted in expansion and productivity. These are commonly replaced by alternative values that focus on enjoyment, rest and relaxation.” In other words, moral values lead to the destruction of the society.11
The challenge for us today is to determine which moral and ethical value system of virtues is best for society as a whole, and thereby, adopt them as our personal behaviors toward all mankind, just as we would expect all mankind to adopt toward us. All of which leads me to the foundation of my original question:
“Who sets your moral and ethical standards of behavior.”
Will it be standards of morals and ethics identified as the best for you personally and for mankind as a whole? Or, will you follow the current trend and practice demonstrated and modeled by today’s technologically advanced principles of pleasure, open and tolerant belief systems that inevitably lead to the destruction of our society. The choice is yours.
As for me, I prefer the foundational ideals upon which our Country, the United States of America were propounded and established. Of which we must “Keep the Quest Alive.”
10. The Oxford Guide To Philosophy (2005); Ted Honderich, Editor.
In Part I, I pointed out some heroes and leaders of the 1936 Olympics – the Games of the XI Olympiad.
In Part II, I am focusing on Daniel James Brown’s book The Boys in the Boat, which is focused on the 1936 University of Washington (UofW) Crew Team and their conquest of Germany’s renowned crew team. UofW Crew teams win was a major contribution toward a world-wide effort to spoil Hitler’s attempts of domination in the 1936 Olympics.
The Big Bang theory doesn’t apply to leadership and teamwork. While some team members are more charismatic than others, with higher levels of skills and traits than others, coaches, mentors and relationship-builders develop leadership, teamwork skills and behaviors toward excellence. These traits are part of Brown’s book.
Each chapter begins with a quote by George Pocock around which Brown focuses throughout the chapters. Many of Pocock’s quotes speak to some aspect of leadership, teamwork and individual characteristics.
I have been a team-member of several organizations, civic groups and sports teams. Rowing, or crew as it is called, truly defines the rhythm, work ethic, trust, and teamwork required for real excellence. Pocock points this out in his quote on Page 1 of Brown’s book:
“In a sport like this – hard work, not much glory, but still popular in every century – well, there must be some beauty which ordinary men can’t see, but extraordinary men do” (Brown, 2013, p. 1).
George Yeoman Pocock, born in England, whose Father and Grandfather were boat-builders, was the “shell builder” at UofW and whose boats were used by nearly every college crew coach in the U.S., and many internationally. Beyond shell building however, he was a integral part of “UDub” (another nickname of UW) crew team as a mentor and untitled teambuilding coach. His presence is noted by Brown throughout the book. Pocock’s importance to the crew team is documented by his quotes in the book, and by his personal mentoring to the “Boys”, most especially Joe Rantz. Chapter 1 begins with the following Pocock quote:
“I believe I can speak authoritatively on what we call the unseen values of rowing – the social, moral, and spiritual values of this oldest of chronicled sports in the world. No didactic teaching will place these values in a young man’s soul. He has to get them by his own observations and lessons” (Brown, 2013, p. 7).
So it is with leadership as well. No leader of such qualities and values is born, each must learn these and other traits and characteristics through experience, classes, leadership mentoring and training, and individual research and reading.
Quest and Foundation of Leadership and Teamwork
John Maxwell says, “The true measure of leadership if influence, nothing more, nothing less” (Maxwell, 2007, p. 11). Row coach Ulbrickson and Shell-builder Pocock epitomized Maxwell’s philosophy.
Leadership and teamwork is about assembling the best team members. Ulbrickson noted:
“The trick would be to find which few of them had the potential for raw power, the nearly super-human stamina, the indomitable willpower, and the intellectual capacity necessary to master the details of the technique (of rowing). And which of them, coupled improbably with all those other qualities, had the most important one: the ability to disregard his own ambitions, to throw his ego over the gunwales*, to leave it swirling in the wake of his shell, and to pull, not just for himself, not just for glory, but for the other boys in the boat” (Brown, 2013, p. 23).
* sides or walls of the boat
This is true not only of teamwork in general, but also of the individual quest for achievement overall. Each team member must put the team first, others first, and put aside personal aspirations for the sake of the team.
Just as every organization has people assigned to leadership position, so also does that same organization have leaders throughout who can and should become mentors to other people in the organization – known leaders and others aspiring for leadership. Such was the case with George Pocock.
Pocock’s influence, while not directly as a coach, was instrumental as a mentor to the boys who came to talk with him, to learn about the boat, and in the case of Joe Rantz, to seek guidance and inspiration from his wisdom about life, rowing, and teamwork. Being an effective mentor takes time and experience observing work ethics, studying habits and actions, and one-on-one counseling, listening to thoughts, declarations, and confessions of strengths, weaknesses and shortcomings.
Pocock’s mentorship evolved in this manner as he learned about the intrinsic values of crew oarsmen:
• Seeing hope where the men saw none;
• Seeing skill that was overshadowed by ego or anxiety;
• Detecting the strength thread of affection between team members as it grew between the oarsmen who were striving to do their best; and most importantly,
• How the bond of trust between crewmembers, if nurtured properly, could coalesce a team of individuals into one team – so in tune with their environment that would replace the pain of their efforts with ecstasy.
So effective was Pocock’s mentorship to the Boys that throughout his tenure at Washington, he became, as Brown points out in the book, their high priest. In later years hundreds would comment, “In his presence Washington crewmen always stood, for he symbolized that for which God’s children always stand” (Brown, 2013, p. 48).
Vision & Motto
Vision provides the inner impetus for wining; it is recorded countless time in leadership writing of success stories of winning organizations. The Vision becomes the motivation for external followership and support as well. If one follows winning sports teams or successful organizations, a Vision becomes the “Why” of existence and drive to excel. So it was with the Washington crew as well.
Ulbrickson laid out the crews vision on January 14, 1935 in the shell (boat) house following a shivering day on the water. At this point Washington crew was the West Coast champion of rowing after beating the best school in California and on the East Coast of Ivy League schools. He declared, “At one time or another, Washington crews have won the highest honors in America. They have not, however, participated in the Olympic Games. That’s our objective” (Brown, 2013, p. 149).
Earlier in 1934 a freshman coxswain had come up with the motto “M-I-B” to help them keep focused on their rowing. M-I-B meant “Mind in Boat” to remind them from the time the get into the boat until they cross the finish line that they must remain focused on what was taking place in the boat. That they must block out the outside world and focus on their small space between the gunwales, only hearing the smooth interaction between the oars and the water, and listening intently to the coxswains commands.
This motto combined with the team’s acceptance of Ulbrickson’s vision declaration provided the motivation to push forward for improvement and winning the Olympics.
When fully ingrained and accepted by the team it produces another aspect of rowing that can be felt by everyone that is hard to achieve and equally hard to define. It is called rhythm and other names. In rowing, it is called the “swing” of the boat. In a crew boat, and as I have seen in sports and work center teams, it happens when all oarsmen (team members) are rowing in such perfect unison that no single action by any one is out of sync with those of all the others. (Brown, 2013, p. 161).
This is what I call the “fun” of working toward a vision and mission, when completed it provides the intrinsic reward that is everlasting and comforting. When a leader does happen to experience such a phenomenon, the external joy becomes an intrinsic reward that is infinite in memory.
John Maxwell says this about humility, “You have a lot less fullness of yourself, so that you can focus on the other person, their needs, their journey, their life. Not what you have done, but focus on who they are and what you can do for them. They don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less” (Maxwell, 2015). So it was with George Pocock:
“My ambition has always been to be the greatest shell builder in the world; and without false modesty. I believe I have attained that goal. If I were to sell the (Boeing) stock, I fear I would lose my incentive and become a wealthy man, but a second-rate artisan. I prefer to remain a first-class artisan” (Brown, 2013, p. 83).
He never sought the spotlight with the Washington Crew. He quietly built his shells, quietly observing and mentoring when needed, becoming a humble force for the Crews 1936 conquest of the greatest rowers in the world.
Humility can be very motivating. Following his building of a new boat they would race in 1934 to further solidify their Olympic quest, as the crew was holding up the boat, Pocock pronounced, “I christen this boat Husky Clipper. May it have success in all the waters it speeds over. Especially in Berlin.” As the Boys carried the boat to the water, they wondered what was the odd smelling liquid with which Pocock had christened the boat. Pocock chuckled, “Sauerkraut juice. To get used to Germany.” He grinned. (Brown, 2013, p. 240).
Life sometimes teaches this important leadership trait. Especially, when the team members grew up in hard times like the boys in the boat, who had experienced the great depression. They took nothing for granted, never letting their accomplishment enroute to the Berlin Olympics blind their intention and vision. These challenges that taught them humility – the need to subsume their individual egos for the sake of the boat as a whole. It became the driving force that brought them together (Brown, 2013, p. 241).
These are just a few of the many leadership lessons taught in Brown’s Boys in the Boat. I strongly recommend that you get a copy for your own reading and edification. I assure you that it will be a ready reference to which you will often refer.
In the mean time, “Keep the Quest Alive! for improved leadership and making a difference in the lives of those you lead.
1. Brown, Daniel James, (2013). The Boys in the Boat, Nine Americans and their Epic Quest
for Gold at the 1936 Olympics. New York: Penguin Books.
2. ibid, P7.
3. Maxwell, John C., (2007). The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Nashville, TN: Thomas
4. Brown, Daniel James, (2013). The Boys in the Boat, Nine Americans and their Epic Quest
for Gold at the 1936 Olympics. New York: Penguin Books.
5. ibid, P48.
6. ibid, P149.
7. ibid, P161
8. Retrieved from A Minute of Maxwell on 1/24/2016 from http://johnmaxwellteam.com/humility/.
9. Brown, Daniel James, (2013). The Boys in the Boat, Nine Americans and their Epic Quest
for Gold at the 1936 Olympics. New York: Penguin Books.
10. ibid, P240.
11. ibid, P241.
What do you know or remember about the 1936 Olympics, the “Games of the XI Olympiad?
Depending upon one’s age, one’s Olympic focus and knowledge of history in general, and one’s individual preference for remembering several “greatest moments” in Olympic, the answer might be all over the map.
There are several heroes and legends from the 1936 Olympics: Jesse Owens; Louis Zamperini; Sonja Hennie; Joe Rantz and the University of Washington Rowing Team; and of course, Adolf Hitler. In each of these lives and experiences, there are important lessons that can be used for personal leadership growth; lessons that provide focused insights into the best and worst principles and methods of inspiring others to greatness.
Leading up to the XI Olympiad, Adolf Hitler was leading Germany on his personal quest of eliminating all Jews from Europe. Several countries were promoting the idea of boycotting the Olympics because of Hitler’s anti-Semitic ideals and practices.1
In addition to Jews, Hitler’s discriminatory comments were recorded in an interview following the Olympics.
Copied from Jesse Owens Official Site at http://www.jesseowens.com.
Jesse Owens, an African American Olympic gold medal champion, was Discriminated against very harshly by Germans during the Olympics. After winning 4 gold medals, Hitler refused to medal him, or even shake his hand (“the 1936”). “The Americans should be ashamed of themselves, letting Negro’s win their medals for them. I shall not shake hands with this Negro… Do you really think that I will allow myself to be photographed shaking hands with a Negro?” said Hitler (“The 1936”). This was one part of the reason some countries thought about boycotting the Olympics in 1936.
After winning 4 gold medals, Hitler refused to medal him, or even shake his hand (“the 1936”). “The Americans should be ashamed of themselves, letting Negro’s win their medals for them. I shall not shake hands with this Negro… Do you really think that I will allow myself to be photographed shaking hands with a Negro?” said Hitler (“The 1936”).
Helene Mayer was harshly discriminated against, and was used for propaganda in Germany. Mayer herself didn’t consider herself a Jew, but the Nazi’s did. according to the Nuremburg laws, she was, because her father was. Because of this, Germany refused to invite her to the 1936 Olympics, even though she had won many gold medals for Germany in the past. But under the IOC (International Olympic Committee) they were forced to let her compete. Because they had a Jewish woman competing in the games, and there was nothing Germany could do about it, they decided to use her a propagandistic tool for the Nazi’s to prove that they placed no restrictions on Jewish athletes.2, 3
Hitler is revered for his inspirational leadership in becoming Germany’s Furor leading up to World War II. Conversely, history records his evil leadership in his quest to make Germany a world leader, expunging other ethnicities from Germany to promote a pure race of people. Obviously, not a leadership ideal of merit around the world.
Sonja Hennie was mesmerizing skating enthusiasts around with her beauty and figure skating skills and elegance. Following her Olympic achievements, she performed in two movies that further exposed her beauty, skills and leadership talents, inspiring other young skaters to greater heights of success. She also performed many “Ice Shows” after the movies. She died in 1969, revered for her accomplishments.
More recently, another 1936 Olympics runner in the 5000 meter event was revitalized in the movie “Unbroken.” Louis Silvie “Louie” Zamperini was an American prisoner of war survivor in World War II, a Christian inspirational speaker, and an Olympic distance runner. Following the Olympic Games, Louis competed on many record-breaking teams at the University of Southern California (USC). Many claim Zamperini would have broken the four-minute mile had he not elected to retire from the sport and join the U.S. Air Corps as a bombardier in the South Pacific during World War II.
Zamperini is the subject of two biographies and the 2014 film Unbroken, which highlighted his personal will and strength to overcome the hatred and abuse of one of the Japanese guards while a POW during WW II. The guard wanted to make an example of the eternally optimistic Olympic runner, and for two years this guard tried to break Louis’ spirit with verbal and physical cruelty.
Louis prevailed, and when the war ended, he returned to Torrance, California to a hero’s welcome. He partied with celebrities and married a debutante, but his life was spinning out of control due to a lack of direction. It was a chance meeting with young evangelist, Billy Graham, that changed Louis’ life for good. He decided to become a missionary to Japan, preaching the gospel of forgiveness to the very guards who had tormented him during the war. His book, “Devil at My Heels” was an astounding record of Louis’ life. Upon his return to the States, Louis created the Victory Boys Camp for wayward youth, where he taught other juvenile delinquents the skills to succeed in life. Meanwhile, Louis and his wife, Cynthia, raised two children of their own.
In 1998, the Olympic Winter Games were held in Nagano, Japan, just outside the town where Louis had been held captive. The people of Nagano asked Louis to carry the Olympic flame as part of the torch relay. The host broadcaster (CBS) created a 45-minute feature about Louis’ life, which aired during the telecast of the Olympic closing ceremony.4
Rowing was for Germany the country’s Sport leading up to the ’36 Olympics. the German team won or place Gold or Silver in every rowing race, except the most important race: Men’s Eight Man team with a Coxswain. The University of Washington Eight-Man team beat the Germans in the most important race of the Olympics, humiliating Hitler.
The last surviving member of the team was Richard Morris, who died in 2009. Four members of the crew lived into their 90s. The cox, Bob Moch was the real leader of the team–he was one of the smartest crew strategists in the history of American Crew.
When this team competed in the Olympic trials they actually rowed shirtless–there was a record heat wave breaking out all over the US.
This crew’s improbable story has been told in the new book “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown, published June 4, 2013 by Viking Press. Their story has been termed “Chariots of Fire with Oars.” For a good intro to the book and this crew’s accomplishment, see this link for a review: http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/06/02/new-book-tells-stirring-story-of-uw-crew-winning-olympic-gold/.5
Part 2 of this amazing story and the leadership leading up to the 1936 Games at the IX Olympiad, as described in Brown’s book “The Boys in the Boat.” As Joe Rantz (right) told the author, “Make sure you talk about the Boat.” I’ll talk about the Boat, and the leadership that led the Boat and crew to victory.
Bibliography: 1. Retrieved from Wikipedia on 2/27/2015, 1936 Summer Olympics, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1936_Summer_Olympics.
2. Adolf Hitler in The 1936 Olympics Interview with Hitler and Jesse Owens, Final Draft.
Retrieved on 2/27/2015 from german8 at http://german8.wikispaces.com/The+%2736+Olympics
3. Retrieved on 2/27/2015 from 1936 Olympics at http://1936olympics.weebly.com/racismdiscrimination.html
4. This story and the accompanying interview reignited interest in Louis’ life, eventually leading Laura Hillenbrand (the Pulitzer Prize winning author of “Seabiscuit”) to document Louis’ life in her latest book, “Unbroken” (Simon & Schuster, 2010).
5. Retrieved on 9/6/2015 from Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/thehappyrower/11054431503.
Is there a “Moral Code” of Technology? Is it imbedded within the bit-code of computers? Or, is it an extrinsic code applied by users of technology?
In schools throughout the country a push is being put forth to teach computer Code to students to inspire their interest in computer technology and encourage future careers. Code is the brain of computers and the light-speed processing enabling users to advance their business, their personal professional growth, and their communication with others around the world.
The impact of social media on our lives has enabled severe immoral behaviors among younger people that, I believe, dictates a moral code of technology, which will improve civility at all levels of society.
Dr. Kent M. Keith’s Universal Moral Code* applies to the use of technology as well as to behaviors in our everyday lives. My good friend and Freemason Bill R. Wood’s personal theme was “Do Good Unto All.” Civility Projects all across the nation are encouraging the return of civility into our daily dialogues. Additionally, there is a movement among colleges, such as The Relay Graduate School of Education (Relay/GSE), to re-introduce character education in schools.
Moreover, in his book Moral Leadership: Getting To The Heart of School Improvement, Thomas J. Sergiovanni speaks about how doing good in schools makes one feel good about their accomplishments. Lastly, writing on Ethics Away From Home in the Harvard Business Review on Corporate Ethics, Thomas Donaldson says companies must be guided by an “……absolute moral threshold for all business activities.”
Most certainly, a moral code for technology use is applicable to the daily use of technology in all aspects of society.
Such a Moral Code would include some of the following behavioral areas of conduct:
- Training on proper and positive Social and Emotional Intelligences that promote relationship building and teambuilding practices;
- Character skills to improve educational endurance – Grit, Optimism, Self-Control, Resilience, etc. – to improve educational and business success;
- Morality that removes cyberbullying, gossip, lying and disrespect of others and promotes inclusion of all groups for the greater good of everyone.
- Skills that include proper and effective listening and attentiveness in group communications, classrooms, meetings, and business activities;
- Moral aspects of taking personal responsibility for own success while exhibiting proper respect that honors all peoples, regardless of ethnicity;
- Morality of proper language in a public forum that respects the right of others; and
- Immoral and amoral killing of others for entertainment, such as depicted in computer games, big-screen movies and television shows.
Teaching the “Do Good Unto All” philosophy would greatly improve doing good at all times. Dr. Keith puts it this way:
Do to others what you would like them to do to you.
Be honest and fair.
Be faithful to your family and friends.
Take care of your children when they are young.
Take care of your parents when they are old.
Take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.
Be kind to strangers.
Respect all life.
Protect the natural environment upon which all life depends.
In The Daily Drucker, Peter Drucker points out there is only one code of ethics, one set of rules of morality, one code, that of individual behaviors in which the same rule applies to everyone alike. He further points out that the first responsibility of a professional was dictated over 2500 years ago in the Hippocratic oath of Greek physicians: Primum non nocere, “above all, not knowingly to do harm.” This same concept is stipulated by Dr. Keith in his Universal Moral Code.
Living and behaving as per the “Golden Rule” – first above – would engrain this age-old standard of conduct – people would exhibit the above behaviors simply because that is the way they would want to be treated also. I believe it would totally remove the “I” mentality because actions would be about others, which would, in turn, greatly benefit “Self.”
Likewise, Self would feel good about their accomplishments, thereby continuing the behaviors.
Bill R. Wood lived his theme and was one of the happiest men I ever met.
How happy are you? Do you do good unto all? Is it part of your leadership and behavior that makes a difference in society?
* © Copyright Kent M. Keith 2003
Are you fully satisfied with the growing uncivil culture magnified through movies, TV programs and society in general?
How does it affect your leadership, more specifically your serving the needs of society, which your behaviors broadcasts to those with whom you interact each and every day.
I am proposing that everyone resolve to be more civil not only in their leadership, but also in their everyday lives and personal interactions with everyone – 24/7, 365 days a year.
For years human nature dictated behavior in treating others with respect, with ethical correctness, and with interactions grounded in the Golden Rule – “Doing unto others as you would like others to do unto you.” Our esteemed President George Washington, at age sixteen, created 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, which he based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595.
The entertainment media seems to be on a quest to erode that standard with publicly abusive foul language, public sexual conduct that belongs in private, and disrespectful behaviors toward others as if nature gave them the right to do so. All purportedly a God-given right under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as if it is the natural behavior to exhibit.
For this reason Civility Projects are springing up nationwide attempting to return civility to society – personally and professionally. Hence, the very nature of Servant Leadership is the most logical leadership philosophy to be followed, again personally and professionally.
Speak Your Peace, Rutgers University, Alverno College, and the Oshkosh Civility Project are a few examples of entities who have initiated actions to return civility to society. In addition, P. M. Forni’s book “Choosing Civility” expounds on 25 way to improve civility in human interactions.
Speak your Peace Civility Project suggests 9 Rules of Civility as core behaviors in dealing with others in a civil manner. Below are a few examples for leaders to follow to promote civility and improve their leadership relationship with others.
1. Pay Attention/Listen. Listen intently when others are speaking. Inhibit the “inner voice” from interrupting with comments such as “The problem is…….”, or “We’ve always done it this way” in an attempt to stop the flow of ideas and suggestions. Listen for the “intent” and “will” of what is being said. Look for non-verbal communications and maintain eye-to-eye contact with the person with whom you are speaking. Lastly, listen to understand.
2. Be Inclusive. Civility knows no ethnicity, no level of leadership, no forum, no religion, no sexual preference, no generation, and no bounds. Being inclusive includes everyone. It is about leading and serving for the betterment of mankind.
3. No Gossiping. Gossiping is one of the most hurtful behaviors and accomplishes nothing. Most times it is negative and idle words, that is divisive and destructive. In some cases, it is also racist. All of which, quite possible, only lowers esteem.
4. Be Respectful. First of all, remember, respect has nothing to do with liking or disliking someone. Everyone deserves a certain level of respect; we all expect to be respected for who we are and what we have accomplished. A point I always make with my students is that, contrary to the common comment of “respect is earned,” how much more or less respect one garners depends on individual behavior, respect toward others, and the common decency, i.e. civility, extended toward others. Civility is “Respectful Behavior”, Respect is “Honorable Behavior.”
5. Build Relationships. Servant Leadership is about building relationships. Therefore, being civil is especially helpful in this process. There is no room for boasting and prideful attitudes, humility is the adhesive that solidifies teamwork and seeks to repair damaged relationships. Seek to apologize, forgive and affirm success of others.
6. Use Constructive Language. Be mindful of the words you use, when you use them, and also of the words you speak through your non-verbal communications. Foul language in the middle of the ocean, out of sight and sounds of others, may serve a purpose. However, foul language in a public forum is disrespectful toward others. More specifically, foul language often times indicates an inability to properly use correct language, as well as a limited repository of words and their usage.
7. Take Responsibility. Don’t shift responsibility or place blame on other people. Hold yourself accountable, accept your own faults, speak positively, clean up your language and respect everyone. Be The Example!
Not only is it time to restore civility in all aspects of our lives, it is essential in your servant leadership principles and practices.
Are you doing your part? Are you always civil in the example you set for others?
I hereby resolve for 2015 and the coming years that I will “Be the Example!” in treating everyone with Civility in all my personal and leadership behaviors. How about YOU?
Keep the Quest Alive!
Early on in my Navy career it was drummed into my head that the Navy’s Number 1 leadership tenant was to “Take Care of your People.” However, no one ever told us how to go about this leadership principle or practice. Nor was it really intently explained what was involved in this process.
What does it mean to you? How do you take care of your people?
People are different is many ways, how can one possibly take care of all of them equally as you lead them through their life’s purpose, vision and goals?
In his article in Ethics for the Junior Officers, Navy Chaplain Captain Arnold E. Resnicoff says that we can use the Golden Rule as a guideline. He cites a Navy Bureau of Medicine concept called “T.E.A.M.” – “Treat Everyone As Me.” Following the Golden Rule – Treat everyone as you would want to be treated – he teaches that when followed, it can help develop an ethical framework for dealing with people we lead.
Conversely, Karen Armstrong, in her TED Talk “Let’s revive the Golden Rule” believes it is the only way to save the world. She points out that all the world’s religions have their own version of the Golden Rule. The accompanying graphic depicts her point.
Captain Resnicoff further points out its importance with two other illustrations:
1. Muslin teacher and mystic Al-Ghazali had this in mind when he taught that we refrain from lying by imagining how we feel when someone else lies to us; and
2. When Confucius was asked what principle could guide all conduct, he answered “reciprocity.” In other words, that we should not do unto others what we would not want them to do to us.
Leadership and the practice of the Golden Rule
In order to adequately take care of your people, one must determine what are their needs to make them better leaders in their own right, while improving their performance and contribution to the organization in which you both collaborate each day.
So what are those needs? Think about your own situation as a new employee in a new organization. What are some your personal needs for your personal and professional growth; needs that make you a better employee, person and make a difference – significant impact – in your current experience?
Based on my own personal career experiences, and on my leadership experience and education, here are a few that come to mind.
Vision – Mission – Goals. Nearly every leadership pundit I have read will tell you of the importance of creating organizational vision, mission and goals. Dr. Timothy Bednarz, in his book Great: What Makes Leaders Great, speaks to it first in the specific findings of his research, as well as in creating an impact. Gordon D’Angelo’s, in his book VISION: Your Pathway to Victory, outlines in detail the steps to creating personal and organizational vision, mission and SMART Goals for success.
Organizational Standards and Values. The Leadership Bible: Leadership Principles from God’s Word, identifies the steps to follow by any learning organization: Standards; Instruction; Practice; Feedback; and Release. Without standards in which to measure behavioral and performance, the remaining four steps are hard to follow. Again referring to Dr. Bednarz, his second finding and aspect of making an impact, personal and organizational values in integrity, personal convictions to do the right thing, and work ethics.
Building Personal Relationships. People don’t care how much you know, until they know how you care. You demonstrate that “caring and compassion” through the work and personal relationships you build with those with whom you work. Take a personal interest in them, their families, their knowledge, their passion for success, and their value system. Encourage them to align their personal values and goals with those of the organization. This doesn’t mean you give them special privileges and overlook behavioral anomalies. You hold them to the expected standards and mentor accordingly.
Professional Growth. Training! Training! Training! Teach them all you know about their job in order to replicate yourself. Develop their leadership so that they can develop other leaders. Empower them to make conscious decisions for the good of the organization and their own growth.
Understanding the Law of Service. Hermann Hesse, in his book Journey to the East, tells the story of Leo, who lives by the Law of Service, which states “He who wishes to live long must serve, but he who wishes to rule does not live long.” Leaders must be committed to the growth of their people, putting them first in their leadership.
Robert Greenleaf, the founder of Servant Leadership, says leaders must believe in the intrinsic value of people and that he/she must recognize their responsibility to serving the personal, professional and spiritual growth of everyone. Mike Frank, motivational speaker of Speakers Unlimited speaks of it in terms of Leadership Pride: Personal Responsibility In Developing Excellence. There are many “E” words that can be used in the place of excellence, all under the heading of “serving” others.
As a Person of Character, you are ethical and principle-centered in your leadership; honest, trustworthy, and humble. You lead by consciousness of the welfare of others, not by ego because of your position. You are maintain your integrity and serve a higher purpose.
As a Person who Leads with Moral Authority, you are worthy of respect, inspiring trust and confidence, while you establish quality standards of performance. You do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do. You empower others, mentoring them to perform to standards and counseling them when veering right or left of those standards.
As a Person who Puts People First – Before Self, you are concerned about your people performing to their highest capabilities. You display a servant’s heart; you are mentor-minded; and you show a care and concern for the growth of your people.
The Golden Rule of Leadership says “Lead others the way you would want others to lead you.” The concepts above certainly outline esteemed methods of leading others, creating highly esteemed leadership who put others first for everyone’s productive personal and professional growth.
Do you use any of these principles and practice each of the daily in your leadership of others? Are you “Taking Care of your People” with a holistic passion toward improving them and making a difference in their lives? The references provided above provide other practices to help you take care of your people, making them better employees, and better future leaders.
Only you can answer these probing questions.
I am interested in and thank you in advance for your feedback.
Ethical practices in the organization is a responsibility of every employee, which contributes to company values, vision, and perception by everyone on the outside looking in.
Peter Drucker writes that there is only one ethics, one set of rules of morality, one code, that of individual behavior in which the same rules apply to everyone alike. This means that the same rules applies to CEO’s and upper level leadership that hold all levels and employees in the organization, and therefore, every organizational member is responsible for practicing ethics.
So what is Ethics? And, what is the foundation of organizational ethics?
The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics says ethics is two things. One, ethics refers to well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefi
ts to society, fairness, or specific virtues. Two, ethics refers to the study and development of one’s ethical standards, which requires the constant examination of those standards to insure that they are reasonable and well-founded. Therefore, ethics is the studying of our own moral beliefs and our moral conduct, and striving to ensure that we live according to standards that are reasonable and solidly-based.
Steven Covey, writing in the Forward of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, says that it emanates from the natural law that is self-evident and universal. He goes on to say that in all the countries he had visited, there existed a common moral imperative, a knowledge of the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, and acting morally and ethically.
Immanuel Kant, in his Critique of Practical Reason, affirms the existence of a moral law within that makes everyone a “good person” or one who does right things, because it is the right thing to do. He stated: “Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.”
Apostle Paul, writing in his first letter of mentorship to his follower Timothy, describes to him the importance of ethical behavior and the problems associated with the individual perception and love of money. He says, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and description. For the love of money is the root of all evil.”
Earlier in the book of Mark, Jesus describes that it is not what goes into a man that is the cause of evil behaviors, but that which comes from within, out of man’s heart that causes evil actions – specifically: evil thoughts; sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy slander, arrogance and folly.
In his latest book entitled “The Moral Basis for Liberty”, Dr. Robert Sirico talks extensively about the foundational ideal and concept of a moral order that extends from the natural law, that is was an important ideal rooted in Greek and Roman thought, and that is was the central foundational philosophy of our Founding Fathers.
What is the cause of this moral and ethical decline of Business in America?
Kenneth Andrews’ Ethics in Practice, which appeared in the Harvard Business Review on Corporate Ethics, says it can be attributed to the lack of moral development at home, at school, at church, and at work. He writes, “Moral philosophy, which is the proper academic home for ethical instruction, is even more remote, with few professors choosing to teach applied ethics.” Combine the decline of moral and ethical instruction with the steady increase in amoral and unethical practices in today’s media, film and television programming, it is easy to recognize the declining standard of morality and ethics in general.
As a business entity, it becomes imperative that standards and instruction must contain principles and practices on morals and ethics to prevent an ethical breakdown that could even lead to the total failure of a company. The following are steps that can prevent this process from becoming a reality.
Five steps to prevent an ethical breakdown in the organization?
There are five steps organizations can take to help prevent ethical issues and concerns that may arise as a result of behavioral violations of ethical policies and standards.
1. Inspire leadership “Self-Awareness” of organizational ethical standards.
Constant awareness of one’s ethical standards and behaviors are crucial to prevent becoming sidetracked to a more inviting, but unethical practice. One’s personal character must continually reflect his/her moral foundation.
2. Model ethical principles and practices.
Walk-the-Talk. Everything a leader says and does is being constantly viewed and evaluated. The character you exhibit when no one is looking must be a total reflection of the character you model when everyone is looking.
3. Create Ethical Standards of Performance (ESOP).
Ethical standards cannot be assumed, nor can ethical practices. Specific and clear standards must become part of the organizational structure. Emphasis must be outlined that ethical practices apply up and down the organizational hierarchy. Training must contain ethical practices, dilemmas, consequences, and decision making practices for full and complete understanding.
4. Build relationships that instill Ethics into Team-building practices.
Discuss morals and ethics with employees during relationship-building encounters. Ask questions about ethical concerns and observations among employees. Build trust to prevent fearfulness of blame for identifying unethical behaviors. Mentor openly and sincerely to improve the ethical awareness of individuals.
5. Publication and periodic review of ethical standards.
Include articles on corporate values and ethical standards in your Newsletters. Educate, model, and reward applicable to measures associated with unethical practices. Review regularly and update as necessary as required to maintain the ESOP.
Leading ethically builds one’s Moral Authority making him/her worthy of respect, inspiring trust and confidence and enabling leaders to lead with high standards of performance. Leaders with accepted moral authority are able with a clear conscience to enforce and maintain organizational standards of performance. Furthermore, leaders are able to mentor poor performer from the heart to improve not only their performance, but also their behaviors.
To be effective, organizational values, morals and ethical practices must be widely promulgated to all employees, with emphasis on equality of standards and consequences for unethical practices that affect organizational vision and perception in the business community.
Thank you for your comments.
Are you a Servant? Do you “Put Others First?”
Robert Greenleaf, and several other writers since, wrote about the ideals of being a “servant to others” in one’s leadership practices. He maintained that the origin of the common practice today of Servant Leadership is Hermann Hesse’s “Journey to the East” in which he describes the “Law of Service.”
The Law of Service states: “He who wishes to live long must serve, but he who wishes to rule will not live long.” (Hesse wrote his book in 1932 before women were in many leadership positions. I believe today he would state it differently.)
Larry C. Spears, in his Focus on Leadership: Servant Leadership for the 21st Century, talks about a new moral principle in that “…..the only authority deserving one’s allegiance…….is clearly evident in the “servant” stature of the leader who are proven and trusted as servants.”
In the Leadership Bible: Leadership Principles from God’s Word, the servant Peter writing in 1 Peter 4:10 tells us that we should “use our gifts to serve others.” In other words, the greatest leaders are servant leaders. Jesus, throughout his time on earth, continually stressed that “I came to serve, not be served.” He demonstrated this concept by once washing the feet of his Disciples at one point.
President George Washington signed his personal correspondence with the phrase, “Your humble servant.” Greenleaf points out how this demonstrates the need for Trustees as Servants.
Are you a Servant First?
Professors John E. Barbuto, Jr. and Daniel W. Wheeler of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln Extension in their article Becoming a Servant Leader: Do You Have What It Takes?, very poignantly ask the question.
Some questions they ask include the following:
Do people believe that you are willing to sacrifice your own self-interest for the good of the group?
Do people believe that you want to hear their ideas and will value them?
Do people come to you when the chips are down or when something traumatic has happened in their lives?
Do others follow your requests because they want to as opposed to because they “have to?”
Do others believe that you are committed helping them develop and grow?
Do others believe you are preparing the organization to make a positive difference in the world?
Mark Miller in his book “The Heart of Leadership” asks the following about self-assessment question – Think Others First.
Do you consider the needs and desires of others before your own?
Do you constantly look for ways to add value to others?
Do you feel you are a “Serving Leader?”
What does your Leadership Pyramid look like? Are you at the top or bottom. Leadership Servants always put the Organization and others first – above self.
Are you a servant first? Do you put others First?
I thank you and appreciate your comments.
A collection of thoughts and ideas for success in dealing with difficult people or difficult issues compiled by Michael Shields, Salem Keizer Public Schools, Director of Transportation and Auxiliary Services, and David McCuistion, Vanguard Organizational Leadership (VOL).
Conflict and the Dynamics of Understanding
Why conflict? The business of transporting students safely to school will have days that have disruptive conflict with other human beings. How we deal with others, especially during a conflict, is probably the most important factor in our jobs. Dr. Mary Kay Whitaker of About Leaders: Making a Difference, writing in her White Paper on Conversation Map, says that it is a big mistake to avoid situation that are disruptive to workplace environments. Additionally, she said that it is equally important to address the disruption and conflict; not only to resolve the issue, but also to insure the safety and protection of everyone affected by the disruption. The better we do it, the easier our jobs and the better we will feel about ourselves.
As documented by Abraham Maslow in his Hierarchy of Needs, Every human being has basic needs that must be met before they can become comfortable is any environment.
The primary needs are food, clothing, and shelter. Other needs are to be loved, valued, and appreciated. People have a need to feel in control of themselves and their destinies. Many of the frustrations we encounter on a regular basis, whether from parents, staff, or employees, are because some of these needs have not been met.
When we are dealing with conflict situation it requires us to figure out what or why the person is frustrated or angry. People will get frustrated when they feel they are losing one of these needs. Dr. Stephen Covey encourages us to “Seek First to Understand then to be Understood”; this is habit number five in his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” If we are to understand, we must first listen.
Dr. Covey tells us there are five levels of listening: ignoring, pretend listening, selective listening, attentive listening, and empathic listening. The fifth level of listening, “empathic”, is when you listen with both your heart and your mind. People often take positions (position = what they want) and dig their heels in. What you can do is find out their interests (interest = why they want it). Too often we all try to move to a solution before we clearly understand the “why.” The leader must remove him/herself from the position of problem solver and put themselves in the other person’s position to fully understand their position and conflict.
We must listen, not with the intention of responding, but to understand the other person’s position. Instead of thinking of a solution, leaders must listen with empathy to what is being said, to understand the intention of the speaker, the depth of their feelings, while watching for their non-verbal words to compliment the understanding. We must ask ourselves, “Is what I have to say really important to what is being spoken to me, will it really add to the conversation.”
Conflict is Often the Result of Unmet Needs
With many of the people that are frustrated or angry, you may never find out what their underlying problem is. For some of them it may require professional assistance. Your job at resolving the conflict is to attempt to understand what their motivation is for the subject matter before you not whether they need professional help. You must assess the situation. Can this conflict be resolved by conversation, preferably face to face? Does this person always approach you in a difficult manner? Are they swearing or using derogatory terms?
In Making Teams Succeed at Work it says; when two employees are having a conflict at work that they can’t resolve on their own, try this strategy: Ask each employee to paraphrase the other employee’s point of view. This will go a long way toward determining if each employee understands where the other one is coming from. It may be that it’s a simple misunderstanding, which can be easily worked out.
A New Look
Have you noticed the changes that have occurred in the last five years? People are questioning more, they seem to be less trusting.
If you are in a leadership role, then you are automatically in a position of being questioned about your decisions; whether you are a school bus driver and the students are questioning your authority, or an office person and the public is questioning your answers, or a supervisor and the employee is questioning your motives or intent. People today want answers; they want facts that support your answers. The public is upset with a bus driver, and they want written documentation that something was done. The bus driver writes up a student, and they want something in writing from the principal that something was done. All of us are in some leadership role and may have experienced this lack of trust.
I believe it stems from people feeling they are losing control, and they want that control back. The public is starting to vote down levies, because they are frustrated with government in general. Why, because they feel they do not have control. One of the ways we can try to offer people that feeling of control is to get them involved in the process. Find out what their interests are. Try to understand their wants. Then, work together with the information towards a solution.
The most impressive techniques I learned recently were at a three day workshop put on by John and Carol Glaser. The purpose of the workshop was to train the district teams for collaborative negotiations. These teams were from both labor and management. People donated their weekend to complete the training. So what was the training? The prime focus, in my opinion, was to understand the other person’s interests and then to work towards a collaborative solution that addressed both sides interests. The second focus, again in my opinion, was to stay focused on the interests and not on the person(s).
In the final analysis, conflict management requires several personal leadership skills that must be developed and honed in order to resolve internal strife that is detrimental to organizational success.