Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Three Ways to Show Respect for Your People

ARCHIVES
Cory Booker Cory Booker Julio Cortez/AP file photo

Even if you’re trying not to pay attention to the presidential campaign right now, you might have heard about Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s comments on “Meet the Press” last weekend. When the topic of the negative messages that the Romney and Obama campaigns are both transmitting about the other side was raised, Booker said he found the whole thing “nauseating.” My guess is a lot of Americans (myself included) agree with Booker on that point. The problem for Booker is that he’s a high-profile Democrat and is therefore expected to parrot the incumbent’s line.

For the past week or so, that line has been that when Mitt Romney was running Bain Capital he was personally responsible for the bankruptcy of a number of companies and the jobs that were subsequently lost. At the same time, as Steve Rattner points out in the New York Times, Romney takes credit for the 89,000 jobs at Staples based on the relatively small investment that Bain made years ago when the company employed around a thousand people. He holds Obama responsible for the loss of 100,000 auto industry jobs. Are things really that simple?

Based on what each of them have accomplished in their lives, I have to conclude that the two candidates for president are highly intelligent people. And, yet, they’re both running campaigns that I think disrespect the intelligence of the people they want to lead. They both expect us to buy simplistic, one-sided broadsides against the other guy. It is nauseating.

Perhaps, though, we can find some lessons for leaders who want to show respect for the people they lead. Here are three I can think of:

  • Treat Them Like Grown-Ups. Years ago, I had a boss who insisted that all of her managers give people all the information they needed to make informed decisions for themselves. To do anything less than that was to act as if we, the managers, were the parents and the rest of the employees were children. Leaders need to engage in adult-to -dult conversations.
  • Assume They Can Handle the Truth. One of the great movie lines of all time was in “A Few Good Men” when the Jack Nicholson character snarled, “You can’t handle the truth.” It’s a great movie line but it’s not usually true in real life. People can handle the truth better than the alternative. The truth allows them to make reality-based decisions.
  • Don’t Dumb It Down. Does every argument need to be reduced to good vs. evil or us against them? Is it ever the case that one side is 100% right and the other 100% wrong? I guess those are rhetorical questions. There’s nothing more inauthentic than an intelligent leader making a incredibly simplistic argument. Good leaders don’t dumb it down.

What are your leadership takeaways from the campaign so far?

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    View
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    View
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    View
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    View
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    View
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    View
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    View

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.