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Posts Tagged ‘Moral Leadership’

A colleague of mine was just fired

June 25, 2014 1 comment

A colleague of mine was just fired, and I’m hurting. I feel awful. I believe it happened because of petty personal differences, and the other leaders went along with it because they don’t understand the value of some of their employees – and at this time – one in particular.

Let’s call him “B” as in “The Bird.” He came to us a broken man 3 years ago. His wife had just left. She was cheating on him – and once she got caught – she served him divorce papers. Right afterwards, he lost his job of 20 years at a Fortune 500 company. Divorced. Unemployed. Really down on himself. Borderline depressed. (That’s my non-clinical diagnosis – I’m good at those.)

What did the 3 years at our company do for him? He re-learned that he has a ton to offer.

He and I designed a product from scratch – working with doctors – and it has been purchased and is in use by some of the leading medical institutions in North America. From nothing we learned a market, created prototypes and suggested solutions, designed the interfaces and worked with programmers to develop the product … and after some alpha and beta releases, it has been adopted by multiple top tier organizations around the US.

He trained multiple co-worker(s) in the art of requirements gathering, specification writing, and many of the skills needed to develop products … so much so that one particular colleague has developed the skills and experience to have a completely new career path.

He developed the training curriculum and performed online training for our customers.

He did a lot of the research and documentation that a company that broke off from us is utilizing as the basis for their product … and he wrote a ton of the use cases and requirement specifications that are the basis for their flagship product.

In short, even though he was never valued very highly by the leadership within our organization, he came to realize his value intrinsically. When they needed a new concept developed, who did they come to for requirements and specs to get the process started? The Bird. And every time a customer would comment “Oooh, it’s so easy to use” or “I really love how simple it is” or “Boy you guys sure got that right”, he would absolutely beam. He knows that we nailed it. And the fact that he could cobble-together a way to support the product from his office – using his own cell phone – without the requested diagnostic tool sets or adequate logs to help understand what was happening whenever there was a problem also showed him how innovative, creative, customer-oriented and problem-solving he really could be.

I’m proud of him. I don’t imagine he’ll stay unemployed for long.

Update: He was unemployed for about 4 weeks. He landed on his feet at a job paying him almost double what he was making with us. Oh – and the new company delivered his stock options the week he started.

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“Last Post” – Daniel Butterfield

February 24, 2011 12 comments

On Presidents Day I probably spent too long talking to my kids and telling great stories about 3 of my favorite presidents, George Washington, John Adams and Abraham Lincoln. (I also include Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan and maybe a few others on that list.) I told them stories about Washington leading a rag-tag group of men down the American coast, barely ahead of the British warships and Hessian Mercenaries, in the snow, shoe-less, hungry… and then crossing the Delaware River in the snow and ice and winning a battle on Christmas Eve in 1776.

I told them about John Adams and all of the selfless service he and his family provided to help create this great nation.

I told them about Abraham Lincoln, walking for miles to borrow a Bible to teach himself to read; walking for miles to return a penny or two that had been given him by mistake; and we read the Gettysburg Address. I was trying to be inspiring. Trying to tell them stories of normal, good men who stepped up to greatness in their lives.

I told them how all Presidents of America are not great, but the great ones have one thing in common: they have fought for the freedom and liberty of our country, our people, US. And there are many that have died in that fight, given their “last full measure.” We honor those fallen with this song. And then I played this video for them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wn_iz8z2AGw

It was cool to watch them watch it. They were transfixed. 🙂

Who was your favorite US President?

A note about the video:

Taps as we know it is actually a variation of an earlier bugle call known as the “Scott Tattoo” which was used in the U.S. from 1835 until 1860, and was arranged in its present form by the Union Army Brigadier General Daniel Butterfield. Butterfield’s bugler, Oliver Wilcox Norton, was the first to sound the new call. Within months, “Taps” was used by both Union and Confederate forces. It was officially recognized by the United States Army in 1874.

Thanks to the commenters for the correction!

Cicero still teaching us today

May 13, 2010 5 comments

Cicero was an ancient Roman Consul. He served in the Roman government for many years. John Adams said that “all the ages of the world have not produced a greater statesman and philosopher united than Cicero“. In his works The Republic and The Laws, Cicero explains his thoughts on good government and leadership.

Two of my favorite points he makes are:
1. People should learn to do of their own accord what they are compelled to do by the law.
2. There is no other occupation in which human virtue approaches more closely the function of the gods than that of founding new States or preserving those already in existence.

In his time, many of his wealthy friends wondered why he would waste his time in politics. His answer is that good, brave, and high-minded men get involved in order to not be ruled by wicked men, and not to allow the republic to be destroyed by them.

There are so many people in our time that want to focus solely on making money and living “the good life.” For the most part, I have no complaints about this. But we also need to make sure and preserve the government that protects the freedoms and liberties we enjoy, not just try to get away with whatever we can and leave it to future generations to pick up the pieces.

When I read “good, brave and high-minded men get involved in order to not be ruled by wicked men”, it made me think of my brother Greg. He’s a guy like most of America: he has a family, a job, hobbies and interests, etc. But he also gets involved in protecting our republican form of government.

When the US Representative that represents Greg wasn’t voting the way most of the people in their district wanted based on their polls, he and his friends got involved. They made phone calls. They set-up websites and blogs. They called on their Rep for explanations of her votes. Their efforts were noticed by national media outlets and brought enough pressure on their Congressional Representative that she was finally forced to respond.

I asked him about the purpose of his involvement. Was he planning on running for office? Other political aspirations? His answer was that he just couldn’t sit by and let the elected officials keep doing whatever they wanted, and not be held accountable. He just couldn’t sit by and let it happen.

Shades of Cicero, perhaps?

Is this Cicero ... or my brother Greg?

Is this Cicero ... or my brother Greg?

Morality and Leadership; Pelosi is bad for America

March 19, 2010 4 comments

At it’s most basic level, government is a willing agreement entered into by a group of people to give up some individual liberty for the preservation of the group in general. Cicero called it a “partnership in justice.”

For example, I have consented to be governed by the laws of my city, state and nation, even though that means I can’t do everything I may want to do whenever I want to. I may not agree with every law, but by not rebelling, it proves my tacit consent.

Naturally, then, in government leaders will emerge. We need to pick sheriffs, judges, mayors, presidents, legislators, etc. But does it really matter what kind of people they are? I think it does.

We have recently heard of all kinds of votes being “bought” in order to pass the healthcare bill. A Utah Congressman’s brother is getting appointed to a judgeship in exchange for the Congressman’s vote for Obamacare. The Hill newspaper reports on some of the goodies, including $300 million in extra funding for Sen. Landrieu’s home state of Louisiana, and millions in extra Medicaid dollars for Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson. The public doesn’t want the bill to pass, so the Dems have to make these hidden deals in order to get it passed. Outside of Obamacare, the New Jersey government has been caught in corrupt contract scandals, awarding contracts and taking a cut of the money. Many state and national politicians are caught in sexual scandals. Our government leaders have been convicted of embezzlement, lying, and tax-fraud; implicated in the disappearance of interns, campaign fraud, and abuse of intelligence to rationalize war; and unconscionable waste of taxpayers money – basically robbing us, the citizens. It’s more like reading about pirates plundering a nation than its leaders preserving it!

Polybius, a Greek from around 200BC, watched the downfall of his native Greece and the emergence of Rome as the dominating power of the era. He wrote many books on Rome’s emergence and its history. He compares Rome to other contemporary nation-states like Greece, Carthage, etc. He says in The Histories, volume III that

“But the quality in which he Roman commonwealth is most distinctly superior is in my opinion the nature of their religious convictions. The consequence is that among the Greeks, (where belief in religion was deemed foolish) apart from other things, members of the government, if they are entrusted with no more than a talent, (a piece of money) though they have 10 copyists and as many seals and twice as many witnesses, cannot keep their faith; whereas among the Romans those who as magistrates and legates are dealing with large sums of money maintain correct conduct just because they have pledged their faith by oath. Whereas elsewhere it is a rare thing to find a man who keeps his hands off public money, and whose record is clean in this respect, among the Romans one rarely comes across a man who has been detected in such conduct.”

Whether the moral code you adhere to comes from organized religion or not, Polybius makes clear that moral people — people who believe in and live in accordance to the natural principles of right vs. wrong; honesty is good, dishonesty is bad; fidelity and integrity are good; etc. — these are the people that make the best public servants and leaders in government.

A generation later, the Roman Cicero said that leaders that follow these moral codes are the only ones fit to govern.

Another generation or two later, approximately 160AD, Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of Rome. In his Meditations he lauds a moral character that works for the public interest in a manner that befits a ruler.

My point is that the morality question has very little to do with the Religious Right of the current political landscape. Oh sure they get their boxers in a bunch about it nowadays, just in time for the next one to fall from within their own ranks due to yet another “indiscretion.” We don’t need to look to these punters for direction, or assume when they fall that the belief in a moral code is incorrect. We have the writings and lessons of history before us. Some Roman guys from a long time ago set-up a mixed government system with an Executive Branch, a Senate, a legislative (popular assembly) body, and judges. Sound familiar? They were the world’s super power for centuries, and their system worked for over 500 years. America, by paltry comparison, is just above the 200+ years mark.

So it’s not like we haven’t been pointed the way.

James Burgh, involved in the creation of this great nation, wrote in 1774 that,

“When we elect persons to represent us we must not be supposed to depart from the smallest right which we have deposited with them. We make a lodgment, not a gift; we entrust, but part with nothing. We have, therefore, a right to know what they are saying and doing. And should they contradict our sense, or swerve from our interests, we have a right to remonstrate, inform, and direct them. By which means, we become the regulators of our own conduct, and the institutors of our own laws, and nothing material can be done but by our authority and consent.”

Compare this with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and her behavior around the healthcare bill. Not only does the American public not know what is in this bill, she is deliberately trying to keep it this way as it says on her own website. The hidden deals, millions of dollars for buying votes, and strong-arm tactics is exactly the opposite of how the representative system is supposed to work!

Pelosi and politicians like her are bad for America. Watch CNN say so HERE.

We need a way to get career politicians back into the real world – like thru term limits for Congress. And we need to be as vocal and vigilant as ever against her and politicians like her. The right to govern ourselves is a real and unalienable right that we have. When our elected representatives abuse it and take power unto themselves like Pelosi is doing – hiding the contents of a bill from the public and doing back room deals to get it put into law – we need to use our natural rights and get her and her cronies out of our government. She and politicians like her are working toward the decline of America. The history is before us.