[January 05, 2014] A hot topic of conversation today is anything to do with politics and issues of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, etc. Name any issue and inject into it one of these political hot buttons, then step back and be prepared for some emotionally-charge opinions.
Being a leader means dealing with these politically charged topics in a professional manner.
Ultimately, the challenge for any leader is to competently and respectfully work with people in the workplace or in any setting. Emotionally-charged opinions are especially difficult. The specifics on how to do this can be summarized as follows.
Be proud of your gender, race, religion, etc., but move on from there. Don’t allow yourself to use these as a crutch to lean on or as a stick to attack people. We should all be confident that our position in society is what it is and what we make of it is the mark of a good and honorable person.
Beneath the displays of emotion on these topics are real issues that are often beyond our immediate control. People today cannot change past grievances but they can set the right tone. Doing the right thing is what makes us better people and that means taking steps to correct any current problems of disrespect and discrimination.
Leaders must recognize these emotionally-charged issues will be used inappropriately by unprofessional and immature people to target leaders and others. This is one reason why it is so important as leaders to remain transparent in our day-to-day activities.
Sadly, there has been no politician (at least that I am aware of) that has stepped forward to either improve or hold back the tide of irresponsible incitement of our society on these topics. Political discourse in America has degenerated into a caustic dialogue where little is being done.
Leaders have the moral responsibility to do the right thing. Each of us should be able to be confident that we have done the best we can do to overcome the destructiveness of these hot-button issues.
Failure to professionally and unemotionally engage those who use these issues inappropriately, as opposed to dealing directly with them, shows that leader’s lack of courage and moral character.