Where are the leaders?

A:  I have been appalled by the lack of leadership on what should be a red line regarding Nazis and white supremacists.   Where are the leaders?

Q:  Don’t make the mistake of confusing the trappings of power—for example, the White House, the Senate or your corporate headquarters —with the center of leadership.  Positional leaders may have the authority that comes from their place in the hierarchy but in today’s social networked world they no longer hold all of the power.

Remember that to lead means to guide on a way—especially by going in advance.  A stellar example of taking the lead is Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier:

 I am resigning from the Presidents American Manufacturing Council.

Our country’s strength stems from its diversity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political believes.  Americans leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.

As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience. I feel a responsibly to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.

The exodus began with Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier on Monday, who said, “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Other  executives joined Frazier in resigning but remember, he was the first to do so—the others followed, still leading by example.

Another outstanding example of leaders is the action of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  They broke ranks with the President on July 27 when Trump blindsided all of the military personnel including a vacationing General Mattis by banning transgender people from the military.

And, following Charlottesville, the Joint Chief of Staff for the Army, General Mark Milley, tweeted at 4:50 AM that the Army doesn’t tolerate racism, extremism “or hatred in our ranks. It’s against our values and everything we’ve stood for since 1775.”

This is the second time the Joint Military Chiefs have stepped forward

Americans fought fascism and crushed the Nazis in World War II, and anyone who waves a Nazi flag on our soil is, by very definition, anti-American.”

Leadership examples abound and are evident in all areas.  The members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities resigned en masse, stating the following:

Speaking truth to power is never easy, Mr. President. But it is our role as commissioners on the PCAH to do so. Art is about inclusion. The Humanities include a vibrant free press. You have attacked both. You released a budget which eliminates arts and culture agencies. You have threatened nuclear war while gutting diplomacy

Carmen De Lavallade

funding. The administration pulled out of the Paris agreement, filed an amicus brief undermining the Civil Rights Action, and attacked our brave trans service members. You have subverted equal protections, and are committed to banning Muslims and refugee women and children from our great country. This does not unify the nation we love.

In previous posts, I remind my readers and coaching clients that we are all leaders.  Even when it looks like we are following, we have actually made the choice to follow—which is also the act of a leader (as the resignations following Kenneth Frazier’s prove).   Leadership and followership are one in the same.  So, here are three simple rules that guide me to leaders:

  • Do I trust them?
  • Will they keep their word?
  • Do we share the same vision for the future?

If you are not seeing that leaders are all around, you may want to zero in on your criteria.

“Freedom, by definition, is people realizing

that they are their own leaders.”

Diane Nash

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