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Archive for May, 2019

Sometime ago I wrote a book about internal politics in universities. The project included a study of leadership styles. Among those styles was the “autocrat.” I found that some people simply feel more secure working under a leader who makes all the important decisions, even when that security often turns out to be imagined.

Many of these people have military experience, or at least admire military-type organizations. They are willing to follow directives on a daily basis, and embrace a culture of disciplined personal behavior… one that defers to a chief executive’s mandates and the instructions of managers and supervisors.

Apparently, we have a White House today that attracts people who prefer feeling this kind of security… that is as long as the commander in chief’s wrath is not being felt directly, and the work situation feels important enough.

After the Iraq war, and Saddam Hussein was finally deposed, many small businessmen said it was actually better for them before the war. The tyrant did not bother them and their businesses were moving along just fine. If there is a place that feels secure enough, many people decide they are just fine with a dictator.

When he was a presidential candidate, Senator Lindsey Graham said very nasty things about Donald Trump’s character. But now he supports him. Graham always admired the military, so maybe many of us just missed noticing that he always has preferred autocratic environments. Maybe now he even has his eye on ending his career in a secure-feeling executive position in such a White House. And maybe we even have an Attorney General who has the same kind of future in mind for himself.

Most management experts, however, think that a democratic approach to leadership results in much better problem-solving. In institutions and governments, these leaders prefer to seek out the most experienced minds they can find, and arrive at decisions based on their best collective thinking. These leaders facilitate participatory processes, listen before acting, and believe in strong teams.

In a democratic organization, the leader generally assumes the role of articulating the vision. But a talented executive team is always counted on to help find the best ways to make that vision real. Loyalty is earned this way… and it is always returned with sincere gratitude.

The current White House, with the help of a significant portion of the Republican Partly, has become a dictatorial autocracy. And while a few Americans might prefer this type of governance, we are the United States of America… and have a Declaration of Independence that flatly rejects autocracies in any form. You see… it’s the lies, chaos, greed, and cruelty that come with them that make them so divisive. And history clearly teaches that over time, autocrats always end up destroying their nations.

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Lesson 493 Congressional Investigations

When do congressional investigators get tired of their own daily rants and give in to defeat? Or, how will they know when they are making enough progress that reaching a “tipping point” is realistic?

Our president is currently using Twitter to intimidate both his Congressional adversaries and supporters. He generates daily chaos, and then refuses to cooperate. He turns down all requests for information, and all invitations to testify. It’s a bully tactic that halts all progress, results in lengthy legal battles, and might buy him time until the 2020 election.

But never ending lies and attacks have an accumulative effect, and people will eventually tire of the constant meanness. It’s an inevitable feature of basic communication dynamics.

So the strategy for investigators must be to not hurry the process, employ a business-like tone everyday, and simply take one careful step at a time… all the while looking for small signs of a “tipping point,” and being ready to act when the time comes.

Oh, and there is one more communication dynamics feature: When colleagues finally do reach a tipping point and shift quickly from supporter to critic, they usually do so with deep feelings of disgust for their leader’s past behavior.

 

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Without truth and facts on the table the political process becomes pure fiction. If this was a Netflix series, it would be wildly entertaining. But this is the United States of America, and the resulting gridlock has become life-threatening to the republic most Americans hold dear.

The White House calls the news media “fake news.” At the same time, lies and personal attacks coming from the White House are “fake news.”  And when you add the fake news streaming from political adversaries and foreign countries, you have nothing short of a fictional adventure novel!

Campaigns are expensive. Instead of passing good legislation, legislators spend much of their week making donor calls and visiting with lobbyists… quickly becoming indebted to them. And making donor wishes a legislative priority mostly results in more fiction.

Lies, innuendos, exaggerations, personal attacks, conspiracies, and rumors, are all contaminating the entire political system. Both parties are responsible. And both are equally guilty.

Our country’s only hope is a complete change of people, culture, and expertise in the White House… and a whole new set of truth-committed, values motivated, “statesmen” setting the agenda in Congress.

Before it’s too late, we simply must find and support the right candidates for 2020. And then, we need to make damn sure they get elected!

 

 

 

 

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