Copyright © Dr. Stephen H. Dawson, DSL 2021
March 25, 2021
"War is a grim, cruel business, a business justified only as a means of sustaining the forces of good against those of evil." Dwight Eisenhower
My maternal grandfather came over from Germany to the United States in 1926. He saw what was shaping up in Germany, concluded it was not good, and decided it best he leave. He died when I was in grade school. I heard him often say, loudly, he was an American. I asked him how he knew things were going to go bad for Germany at such an early point in the events. He told me he saw people standing on others. This response is all he would share with me for his answer. I knew he was not talking about a cheering squad standing on shoulders. I liked him, but he was a stern man at times. He was nice to me. I miss him. I have learned over the years standing on others always goes bad. Standing on anyone is called oppression. A more accurate term for oppression is evil.
Dwight Eisenhower never served a day in combat. I am not sure how he rose to be the head of the effort to win World War II. Eisenhower worked for Douglas MacArthur about a decade earlier, but he ended up being MacArthur's peer and boss even though Eisenhower was much junior in tenure to MacArthur. Life has no shortage of surprises when it comes to work promotions, demotions, and terminations. Eisenhower traveled across much of Europe after World War I to observe the terrain of the battles that occurred there. This first-hand information served him well in his role as leader. It seems to me he knew he would one day need this information gained by direct observation. It turned out to be part of his research for the strategic planning he did not know he would be forming in his near future. I wonder if he knew during his walks across the European terrain then how many people from such a diverse group would want to be included to help eradicate evil at Normandy.
We have found your effort to accomplish your strategic planning work is not going well for you. We determined you have a people problem causing your work not to be accomplished as you prefer. We are considering if this problem can be fixed and, if so, how to best fix it. You are looking to swap out some of your people by either changing their work assignments or having them leave your organization. You are looking for some new faces to do the work you need to be accomplished. Let's see if working to keep evil out of your organization will help you find new faces to work for you.
The definition of evil is simple: death. Evil always causes the result of death. There are times when death is welcome, necessary, even good. It is a matter of how each death occurs. I am saying evil is not good, and good is not evil. If I cause death to help my organization, then I am doing evil. Destruction is not death. I could raze a building to put up another building at the same site. If I harm anyone, then I hurt the organization I lead. This anyone list includes those who work for me, any matrix-supplied folks involved in doing work with my people, my customers, my strategic partners, and my supply chain network.
HOW MUCH HARM?
Anger is a prelude to violence. Violence is a prelude to conflict. Conflict is a prelude to war. I talked about abuse recently. It has been my experience strategic planning work that is behind schedule in any organization does not help form tranquil conditions in either those organizations or for anyone external to the organization who needs the strategic planning work accomplished. Tension among work relationships is often high when work is behind schedule, to the point of anger being more frequent among members of the organization. If these attributes are not the case, then the workers do not care about doing the work. The answer to resolving this condition is simple: get rid of those who do not care about doing their assigned work. They may pretend to care about their work, but what evidence do they provide to you to prove their assertion? They have contributed to the work delay by hiding their work values from you as their leader. They have enabled the conditions to happen in your organization. There is neither a viable reason nor means for them to continue to be a member of your organization. Reassignment is not an option. Their actions are an example of evil. It is best for the organization to end their membership, and do so promptly. Then, you have to consider how you let this happen in the first place.
If evil is bad, then how much bad do you want in your organization? Can you afford to have any form of evil occurring in your organization? How can you stop all evil? The answer is you cannot. What you can do is not allow it to continue once it is realized. I shared recently people conditions change, so they must be measured frequently. Frequently can be a matter of seconds.
The events of US Airways Flight 1549 ending up in the Hudson River show a good example of the work progress matter we are discussing. There was a clear plan: fly from New York to Charlotte. An in-flight accident occurred. The pilots landed the aircraft on the water where the aircraft would float. The flight crew then had the passengers disembark the aircraft by standing on the wings in an orchestrated manner. Boats arrived at the aircraft, taking the passengers onto their boats. Here is the key to the success of their collective efforts: no one panicked. The aircraft captain made it clear within seconds of landing what will happen next. If panic would have occurred, then it is probable at least one death would have occurred. It is also probable the aircraft would have sunk within seconds. I encourage you to watch the film Sully to gain a deeper understanding of these events.
How about you? How do you foresee you would have responded to these events as a passenger, as a member of the flight crew, or as captain of the aircraft? I will go out on a limb here and say I do not see evil occurred by either the flight crew or the passengers. I make this statement because I do not see evidence of it. I cannot imagine how anyone on that plane felt during that experience. I can say, for certain, a leader must be ready to handle such events in the minutia of their work. Planning, training, scenario concepts, and...here it comes...a strategy for what to do in your planning, training, and conceptualizing efforts. Meaning, you must live as a leader performing continuous strategy development to stay out of whatever conditions you define as bad.
David Daniels and I discussed the best practices of inclusion in the concept of diversity. Dave shared, "Tangible mission statements and values allow successful organizations to align diverse ideas while creating an environment that allows everyone to bring their best by inclusion. Inclusion, bringing the best out of everyone, is one of the critical strategic imperatives in any successful organization." My experience with successful organizations shows those organizations determine how to achieve inclusion well before they face difficult circumstances. They overcome the difficulties by having their people placed in roles that suit them well, thereby structuring the organization to be focused on the same mission by living what they value.
I am averse to conflict. I am no longer into violence. I, for many years now, would much rather walk away from being ill-treated than to respond with like-kind behavior. Having made these statements, I both have fought and will fight tooth-and-nail to defend those who I love. I will define the term love to you in a forthcoming column. I speak in both the literal and metaphorical for the term fight. I would rather suffer harm defending them than have them suffer harm. I am fortunate I have only had a few life-threatening events in my life. I hope you never have one in your life.
You as a leader are asking your people to trust you in many ways with each second you serve them as their leader. I have no interest in risking either harm or experiencing any form of evil if I can avoid it. Any leader I chose to follow must have a good reason as to why they would need to subject me to harm in my followership of them. I will not, repeat...will not...allow any leader to expose me to any form of evil by their choice, whether their choice is planned or unplanned. The point here is their choice. We, they as my leader and I as their follower, may face evil on the journey we are taking together. It is then a matter of what we allow to continue.
How about you? What are you asking your people to do for you? What conditions are you asking them to experience as they do whatever it is you have asked them to do for you? How much productive work output do you expect your people to accomplish as they work either with or in any form of evil you allow to exist in your organization? What is the quality level estimate you foresee for the work output your people deliver to you while working either with or in any form of evil you allow to exist in your organization?
Read the letter from Eisenhower to his people dated June 1944 to see if you have the same level of commitment to your followers. Then, decide for yourself if Eisenhower was serious about his commitment to his people. Then, read the radio announcement from Roosevelt to the United States to decide for yourself if Eisenhower had the support he needed to execute the planned strategy. Finally, read the note Eisenhower wrote to Roosevelt a few hours before the execution of the planned strategy. "If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone." These words are evidence of a leader.
If you view your job where you serve as a leader as too small to come close to the colossal events experienced by Eisenhower, then you would not be alone. I suspect your followers view your role as their leader as quite important to them. Lead them by serving them as their leader, holding the scale of your leadership work to give it the respect it is due. Then, see how fast things improve for your strategic planning efforts.
Please spend time this week watching the Sully film to see how Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III, Eisenhower, Roosevelt, and you line up in your work today as a leader. Think about the present status of your strategy work effort. If the result of evil is always death, then what form of evil do you see in the midst of your organization?
So, I ask you: where do you want to go? I hope your answer is to develop the plans necessary to accomplish the strategy you know you need to achieve to arrive at your desired destination. If this is the case, then let's get to work. If not, then I wish you the best of everything.
I hope we will see each other here next week. Email me if you need to talk before then.
Dr. Stephen H. Dawson, DSL
Executive Strategy Consultant
Stephen Dawson is an executive consultant of technology and business strategy, serving significant international organizations by providing leadership consulting, strategic planning, and executive communications. He has more than thirty years of service and consulting experience in delivering successful international business development and program management outcomes in the US and SE Asia. His weekly column, "Where Do You Want To Go?," appears on Thursdays.
Dr. Dawson has served in the technology, banking, and hospitality industries. He is a noted strategic planning visionary. His pursuit of music has been matched with his efforts to lead by service to followers. He holds the clear understanding a leader without followers is a person taking a long walk alone.
Stephen has lived his life in the eastern United States, visiting most of the United States and several countries. He is a graduate of the Regent University School of Business & Leadership. Contact him at email@example.com.