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Leadership In The News: Dilemma in Kentucky or Start A Dialogue to Address Personal Biases In The Workplace

Here is the situation: There is this County Clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky. Where this person is from does not matter. What does matter is that this person wanted to do this job of County Clerk. She wanted to be a Public Servant. This person rallied for this position. This person wanted to do this job. I do not know if she was elected to the position or appointed to the position of County Clerk. Then again, how she acquired the position of County Clerk does not matter.

What does matter, is this one person, this individual wanted to serve the public. She wanted to serve in this County Government position. This means that as a County Clerk she is going to serve the citizens of the county. That is why her title is County Clerk. That is the position she wanted. I can guarantee that up until recently she bragged and boasted about how she serves the county and ALL its citizens. Brags about being a PUBLIC SERVANT. How do I know this? Who does not brag about having such a responsibility?

Then this issue of Same-Sex Marriage comes to the forefront of the news. Disclaimer, whatever your position is on that issue is of no concern to me. By the same token, I hope you have NO concern for what my stance is on that issue. That is not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is the individual that wants to be a PUBLIC SERVANT, chooses NOT to be a Public Servant, yet, wants to remain in that position and wants to keep doing that job. How can she or anyone else do their job effectively if they do not want to do it?

As Business Owner, Leader, Manager do you have someone that does not want to do their job because pumpkins are orange and refuse to do business with anyone that has anything to do with produce that are orange. Maybe they had some traumatic childhood experience with a pumpkin or whatever the reason, it does not matter.

What do you do? Do you get someone else to do the work when it comes to dealing with orange produce? Yeah. That is an idea.

In the case of the Kentucky County Clerk Office’s that was not happening. The County Clerk influenced others (especially Deputy County Clerks) in the County Clerk’s office to not allow them to do their job.

When I joined the US Army I took the oath of enlistment, I swore that I would defend the Constitution of the United States. All of it not the parts that I decide are worthy of defending. They all are worthy of defending. From the 1st Amendment (Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion) all the way to the very last one and every word in between.

I applaud that County Clerk for her convictions but at the same time, I guarantee that individual does not want the government interfering in the actions of her church. Now while you are performing a job on behalf of the government (local, state, or federal) you have to do your duty. That is what you signed up for, that is what you petitioned for, that is what you rallied for, and that is what you swore to do when you accepted that government job. You are to do the job the government has entrusted you to do.

Back to the Business Owners.

What happens when you somebody that does not want to “play ball”, someone who does not want to do what they need to do? As I previously mentioned, you get some who will do the job.

As a leader, what are you doing to prevent situations like this from happening at your place of business? You talk about the issues as they affect your business. Now, if you feel that this type of discussion may be on the verge of some kind of harassment then what do you do? Don’t have the conversation?

You have to have these conversations! If it is done in an appropriate manner and setting there should be no problem so long as the conversation is a dialogue with everyone in an open forum.

This issue must be addressed. It must be addressed in EVERY workplace. These matters affect everyone. They affect your business, your employees, clients, customers, vendors and every stakeholder.

Think about this: What if one of your vendors decides that because your organization’s colors are purple and yellow. He went to a high school whose colors were red and blue then uses that as an excuse not to serve you. It is the same principle as the situation in Kentucky, personal bias. Nothing more and definitely nothing less it is just personal bias. You call and complain about the vendor not serving you because your organizational colors are purple and yellow. He said that those colors belong to a rival high school. Guess what the owner is going to do? He is going to tell that individual to get out there and do what he was hired to do or he will find someone else to that will do it for him.

Now back to you as the Business Leader. What do you do?

You begin that dialogue, you work the situations out until you and your staff begins to feel comfortable about those issues and how to address them. Of course, there will be some people that say they will have no problem doing the job no matter the situation. Then the moment a situation occurs there will be someone that will have a problem doing what must be done. I guarantee it. How can I guarantee it? There always have been and there always will be weak individuals that when push comes to shove they will back down when it comes time to walk their talk.

Start your dialogue. Start it NOW!

Find out who is in and who is out. Know now how you and your team are going to handle any situation. Know who is going to be the backup when someone does not want to serve a certain type of customer. Realize, one day you are going to get a customer/client who speaks a language other than English, who is hearing impaired or visually impaired. You are going to get customers like that and the dialogue you are having with your staff is a great time to address these issues before they become huge problems. Remember, in business there is no such thing as a little problem.

Expect the unexpected but be prepared! Be prepared now by starting the conversation now!

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Leadership In The News: What Happens When What You Say Is Not What Your Boss Says (or Believes)?

Former World Wrestling Champion, Hulk Hogan (Terry Gene Bollea) was dismissed by the WWE after some racial slurs and comments became known. Hulk Hogan, the Hulkster, the architect of Hulkamania was the face of the WWE, since 1977, along with Vince McMahon, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, The Iron Sheik, Andre the Giant, The Undertaker and countless others. Hogan was the one wrestler that helped keep the WWE alive during the lean years. Hogan helped bring it back to the level of popularity that the WWE now so richly deserves and enjoys.

That does not excuse the Hogan’s behavior concerning his thoughts, words or deeds, especially when he is using the moniker that is synonymous with the WWE. Seriously, if you have not been living under a rock since 1977 then you know when one says WWE or its precursor WWF you automatically think Hulk Hogan. Actually, by having such high prestige in American popular culture it discourages any misbehavior whether as the Hulk Hogan or as Terry Bollea.

Hogan was known by all. Young, old, short, tall, American, Japanese, Rich, Poor, White Collar, Blue collar, Black, Brown, White, Red, Purple, whatever everyone knew who Hulk Hogan is or was. His popularity crossed ALL lines of socio-economic statuses. The character known as Hulk Hogan was loved by so many and hated by so few. This guy brought in then all in. He was an equal opportunity wrestler. This is what made the WWE’s popularity soar because the demographics that they were attracting were off the scale. There is no one segment, exclusively, that has bought in to the WWE. They all were brought in. Actually, the majority came willingly while the others came in because that is what their Parents experienced or Big Brother watched. That is a very good thing for business.

However, when the top performer in the WWE or any other organization, does something to undermine what has been built for almost 40 years there can be no room for anything less than complete dismissal. Being Hulk Hogan does not give him carte blanche to do as he pleases nor does it allow the leadership of the organization to overlook any of his questionable actions. The same applies to a “Rock Star” in any organization.

Rules are rules and when those rules are broken consequences follow. When Hulk Hogan’s “racial tirade” came to light what else could the WWE do? Here the organization spent all this time, energy, and money building a brand that has a net worth of $1.6 billion. When someone does something that has to potential to alienate a huge portion of its customer and fan base the organization must do something.

Thus, the WWE acted appropriately when it decided it was best to break ties with Hogan. Here this guy, the voice of the WWE saying and doing things that will splinter the WWE’s audience and alienate a fan-base that took generations to create, cultivate, and empower. The organization’s leadership had no choice but to cut those ties. It had no choice to do so in the way that it did.

Anyone in business would do the exact same thing. The customer is king when it comes to the “entertainment” industry. When you are the only game in town, you cannot rest on your laurels and for one-second think, you got it made. The same applies to any business and that is why it was perfectly acceptable for the leadership to step up the way it did and do what it did.

Of course, it may have taken the Hulkster by surprise but then again, over the course of his long and illustrious career he has seen the exact same thing happen to other professionals (wrestlers and non-wrestlers alike). Thus, it should have come as no surprise when the axe fell on him. Remember, people will eventually forget the man but never the words or actions.

What the public will never forget is how the leadership of an organization handles the tough times and what it does to weather the storm caused by a few or one in order to save the lives and in this case the livelihood of the many.


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#Leadership in the News: “Secret Service Director’s Mission: Fix the agency”

Leadership in the news: “Secret Service Director’s Mission: Fix the agency”

New Secret Service director, John Clancy, recently opened the agency’s doors to the media to talk and show what was going on at the Secret Service to change and regain the population’s trust in that agency. By doing so, Clancy’s leadership comes shining through.

In the CNN report, the director openly talked about the agency’s past and how the agency must change to put that part of its history behind them and the nation, of course in the name of progress.

However, as is the case for making change in any organization it just does not happen with a snap of a finger. It happens when leaders are deliberate and want to deliver “more transparency and speedier reforms”.

Even then, those on the outside the agency are still demanding answers for past actions. A past that is clouded with scandal and lax security procedures, which have threatened the White House.

By having a leader that is willing to step out in front and work to deliver that change, the organization can step away from its ugly past and move into the light of progress and success.

The agency has been criticized for NOT bringing in an “outsider” to “clean house” and make the necessary changes that would appease the critics and not necessarily make the organization better.

I am a big proponent of hiring and promoting from within. I used to work for a state agency in Texas that was mired in scandal and the powers that be (legislature) saw it fit to demand an outsider come in and make things right. The outsider had no clue what it was really like to be out on the frontlines and was summarily dismissed and replaced. The replacement was not that much better. The outsiders did nothing but create a culture of fear and panic. They also managed to create an environment where GOOD LEADERS could no longer thrive for fear of dismissal or ARREST. Yes, some leaders were arrested but I digress.

Outsiders do not understand the culture from within. Outsiders tend to throw ALL employees into the same barrel of rotting pickles instead of knowing who was good and who was rotten to the core.

Fortunately, for the Secret Service they do not have to deal with such nonsense but instead are given another opportunity to stand out, thrive, and resume their role as one of the most trusted organizations in the US Government. That’s because they have a leader that not only comes from within its ranks but also has nothing to hide when it comes to leading change.

Now, that’s a leader that all organizations should strive to create, cultivate, and not hesitate when it comes time to hand over the reins to a new leader.