Friday, January 23, 2015

How do You Deal with Bullies in Leadership

It happened most unexpectedly. An organization I know fairly recently experienced a major leadership transition. There was excitement about the new person, as the individual had apparently really wanted to be here.   The person moving on would be missed, but people had no idea how much until the new leader started feeling comfortable. Some were a bit surprised at how uninterested the new person was in the culture of the organization. It should have been a tip-off when advice was refused, and then  when the newcomer began making remarks about how things were done, how people were, etc. etc. etc. The leader had vowed to be of a certain philosophy or tradition, but the observed actions are anything but consistent with that tradition. Some of the actions seem to be bullying, to get rid of the opposition. Seemingly reckless regard for resources of any type.

Having experienced bullies before, unfortunately, I know how damaging they can be. How to address this problem before it destroys the organization or the people in it is extremely important. The organization has always had such terrific leaders that it is poorly prepared for this situation. Going to take some hard work.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Where were you?

So much water under the bridge. When MLK was assassinated, I was in 10th grade, living in Durham, NC. In those days the racial tensions were high, particularly in Durham, a city which has changed enormously from those days in the late '60's. In those days, though, the Klan was active and my family had to be careful, since as being Catholic made us potential targets.

He was shot on a Thursday evening, and the news of course took a bit longer to get out than it does now. The next day being Friday, there was concern about violence erupting over the weekend. After school on the following day in early April, I remember standing out on the driveway of our home, thinking about what might happen. There were warnings of violence and cross burnings, riots etc. The racial violence was almost a daily occurrence then. I remember going to DC to help my sister with a new baby the year before and seeing the fires from the plane. I was going to help with the baby while she drove us all back to our parents in Durham, to get away from the violence in the city.

It is strange how those moments are frozen in our memories, with sometimes the seemingly most insignificant of details remaining part of the photograph in our minds. I can see where I was standing late that Friday afternoon in 1968, looking out to the edge of our front yard and fearing the burning cross.

Where were you that day?