Our Leaders Our Selves


I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent more minutes than I’d like to admit railing about Mayor Kilpatrick and John (and Elizabeth) Edwards this week.  My talk has been mostly – if not completely purposeless.  I’ve just been part of the Greek chorus of outraged citizens.  I don’t think I’ve enlightened anyone else or likely made myself more moral as a result.  So, why write more?  Well, here’s a really weird connection.

Every year the State of Michigan’s Office of Great Workplace Development does a survey of employees regarding the workplace culture.  The survey asks “how evident” the values of Integrity, Excellence, Teamwork and Inclusion are.  It asks this at five levels:  in general, in departmental leadership, of one’s boss, of one’s co-workers and of the employee filling out the survey.  Can you guess the consistent result?  Who gets the highest rating?  Why, the person filling out the survey!!!  Over 90% of people say they not only demonstrate excellence but also show integrity, inclusiveness and teamwork almost always, or all the time.  They rate their co-workers pretty well, their boss less well, their departmental leadership less, and the state government as a whole the lowest.  The results are consistent across the four values and across all departments.  Isn’t that amusing?  And needless to say it makes NO LOGICAL SENSE: if each of us were so incredibly good then wouldn’t it have to follow that we’re pretty good as whole?

What’s the connection to Mayor Kilpatrick or Senator Edwards?  It’s the human connection!  We judge leaders harshly (those who ask to lead us invite that scrutiny), but they are just human and so are we.  Their colossal failures distract us from our work – this crazy hard work of being a human being of integrity.  As parents we teach love, but sometimes we’re not so loving.  As bosses we expect communication but forget to communicate.  As pastors (literally “leaders of flocks”) we proclaim God’s mercy but forget to trust and experience that mercy ourselves.

I can hardly imagine being in the painful shoes that these leaders have put upon themselves and invited us to tighten excruciatingly around their feet of clay.  But in the end, you and I walk in our own shoes.  There’s always a gap between the behaviors I preach and those I demonstrate.  Maybe there’s some value to the madness if you and I gain a little more courage to see our faults and own them before we cause others and ourselves so much of the pain that flows from deceit of ourselves and those we lead, hopefully

With our best selves!



  • AMEN! Your comments are right on. “let he is without sin cast the first stone” or something like that. I know I catch myself failing in this regardtoo often. Reflect on what I have done poorly, how it has impacted others, and try not to do it again, hopefully!

  • I’m not sure where in the Bible it talks of the additional responsibility and role as a leader, be it either in a religious or layperson context, but it is clear that their responsibility to lead and direct is of a greater magnitude than those that have elected to follow. So, consequently, there IS a greater burden placed upon people such as the two examples you’ve written about, Kilpatrick, and Edwards, to voluntarily place a higher bar standard by which to be of srvice to others. Godalso clearly states that this responsibility to uphold certain tandards wil weigh heavier on them than others. As they failed, yes, they share commonality with all in the human race, yet they are held accountable at a higher level of scrutiny!!

  • Thoughtfully said. Seems virtuous leadership may not be attainable without mindful compassion towards ourselves and others…..

  • Yes, very well said, Dan. And tied into your comments above is the simple fact that despite all that is right with the world, there are still a lot of problems … globally, in our country, in our state, and in our local communities. And many of these problems are very complex. I think it’s only human nature that when a problem is complex, one tends to point a finger at people in government. And Dan, I don’t need to tell you that as a result, some folks who anonymously comment in the media and on web pages seem quick to proclaim some of the most bitter and vitriolic comments imaginable. To those of us who believe in the validity of “let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” let alone “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” there is certainly a disconnect between principles and reality. And importantly, while I may not be able control what others say, let me be sure that my own comments are consistent with my beliefs.

  • Hello Dan,

    Thanks so much for the input!! Just the other day I was listening to some of the comments from Mayor Kilpatrick’s defense attorney, and found myself thinking…are you not, Mayor Kilpatrick, held to a higher standard than that of the “average” citizen?? Should we not be able to look at our leaders as role models and examples (flawed as they/we are)?? And at that moment…on my way to the Leadership Summit at my church, I realized I should be praying for our leaders and government officials, constantly, because not only should they be held at a higher standard, but are also given to a higher level of scrutiny. Thanks for reminding me!!

    God Bless,

    Maureen Chabot

  • Mr. Mulhern,

    I agree with you 100%! Read Acts 4:2 – 5:11 (Ananias and Sapphira). 1Timothy 1:1-12. It is sad that leaders are made out to be really bad once a mistake is made. Leaders serve a public trust and are expected to be invincible, nothing could be further from the truth…….

    Thomas K. Burke
    Mentoring Collaborative Of Jackson County-Chair
    Corrections Officer

  • The survey results make perfect sense to me.

    A person filling out a form has direct knowledge of everything he/she does. That person does not have direct knowledge of everything a supervisor, a director, or a much-higher-up does.

    In fact, that knowledge decreases as the levels go up. What knowledge we have of others is only a part of the big picture, but we tend to see it as the whole picture, remembering any detail we know as more significant than it might be.

    For example, the first gentleman is aware of much more detail about the governor than the average citizen can be. My perceptions of her will be much less accurate, based on news stories. Neither of us will ever know everything she does or feels about every decision.

    Maybe the survey can’t get any better data because the individual responder doesn’t have it. No one else knows the effort we put into doing the right thing every day. Or the effort we fail to put in. Each of us should give the others a break now and again.

    • I agree with what I think the intent of Mr. Mulhern’s message was, but Steve has caught an important point here, that Dan must not miss.

      We can try harder to inform our employees of what we know and why we make the decisions we do. There may be times when the issues are too complex, or when some reasons are necessarily confidential. And we do all make mistakes as not a single one of us is perfect.

      But I too often observe Michigan’s management announcing opinions or decisions that fly in the face of the facts or appear contrary to the stated goals of inclusiveness and integrity. It seems to me that either our management isn’t informing itself well enough, or it isn’t explaining it’s decisions well enough.

      I’d say this observation applies more frequently the higher one goes in the chain of command. From line supervisor, thru division chief and department director, on up. Perhaps at each level we face more and more obstacles of a political nature, and are less able to rely on science and objective reason?

      Without improvement, it leaves many who pay attention to wonder why we do the things we do. What are the reasons that are unknown to us? Would we support them if we knew; or would we be disappointed? We are left to guess.

      This message is intended in the spirit of support for continuing improvements in our service to the public. We are certainly doing much better than we were a few years ago…

      • Clif,
        I think this is a HUGELY important point you raise: communication is essential. At a minimum WHY are we doing what we are doing, but hopefully, at a higher level, asking: what do you think about what we did; and where time makes it at all possible, asking what do you think about what we’re THINKING of doing.
        Communication. Communication. Communication.
        Great message.

        • Dan,

          Your comments have once again caused me to have quite a bit of good thoughts to ‘digest’ and apply to my own life. I took a day to think, and now after reading this last comment, I feel I must comment.

          COMMUNICATION is really the bottom line and common connector in all of our daily life workings … time and again it’s importance is brought out in my own life and workplace. When it slips from the #1 spot in importance, is when discord and disconnect problems creep, then gallop in.

          Of course, it helps when those I am communicating with value honestly as much as I do!!

          Write on! And thanks for challenging me weekly to …


          Renée Deroche

  • Consentual adult sexual indescretions should be private, not public. However, lying to the public becomes another matter. What happened to “No comment is necessary in this situation”? I really don’t want to know what they are doing. That’s between them and their family, and a much “higher authority”..no matter what I personally may feel or think.

    I don’t like the idea that someone of earthly public authority lies to the court and continues to try the “court’s patience” by blatant conduct ignoring the judge’s orders. Aren’t these the same laws they vow to protect when they take public office. Those actions and especially that attitude speaks much more loudly to me and is just offensive and a let down to those who voted for him and trusted him to uphold those laws.

    I may not have much respect for a higher work authority that has indescretions that are inappropriate, but I respect them much less for blatant use of power that ill effects the staff team, just because they can, illustrating, they just don’t really care.

  • I just made new friends who are Democrats from a Republican state. They speak highly of their ex-Governor, not because of personal morals, but because that politician made decisions and builts coalitions that made sense for the public served and didn’t nod towards political backers. Kilpatrick failed that test long before his personal life caught up with him and he entangled it with the use of public funds. Edwards is another type of story. Integrity is where integrity counts. We should figure out a way to seperate personal failure and viewing how partisan public support of administrative incompetence can lead to a pridefulness that leads to personal failures.

  • Dan,
    Nice reminder in self-examination. However, let’s not confuse the “pain” of the elected leader with that of pain they administer to the public via their lapse in ethics, morality and obeyance of the law… It appears your essay is meant to remind us to not be so harsh on our flawed politicians – while using Kilpatrick and Edwards as prime examples of those in receipt of that harshness. I certainly understand the need for all of us to use tolerance and empathy towards others. However, when the citizens have been “violated” to the extent that Kilpatrick has done so, your decision to include him in an essay of this sort is asking much of the people whose lives have been destroyed because of his actions…(read: should have left him out of your article). I believe it is also “human” to feel wronged, cheated, and angry when situations as the ones in Detroit present themselves. Essays and teachings about tolerance are nice to espouse, but can be more challenging to heed when the pain is your own as a result of shoddy, immoral and illegal actions of a leader.

    I, thus, have “judged” you in the writing of this article. And I am fully aware that it is MY shortcomings in not, perhaps, being tolerant enough to accept your thoughts on this matter. My anger and sense of injustice visited upon the citizens of SE Michigan by largely, ONE PERSON, temporarily disables me from seeing the bigger picture – I suppose.

    Thank you for your courage in writing what you wrote.

    • THE PULL OF TEMPTATION~ Stephen Covey in his book on Everyday Greatness Shared the Following~

      Along any journey to success are found many enticing distractions. Discipline is the principle that thwarts temptation.

      Opportunity knocks only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell~Western Livestock Journal Most people want to be delivered from Temptation, but would like it to keep in touch. ~Robert Ober


      In mathematics, an interger is a number that isn’t divided into fractions.

      Just so, a man of integrity isn’t divided against himself. He doesn’t think one thing and say another so he is not in conflict with his own principles. ~Arthur Gordon

      The TIP Lady

    • Jerry,
      I appreciate your feedback and the self-examination involved. I refer to Kwame not to exonerate him or to invalidate public judgment of a man who decided to lead publicly.
      There’s just plenty of outrage out there.
      My point is not to judge him, which, as voters we are entirely entitled to, but instead to make the judgment and move on to our own sphere of influence and our moral actions.

  • I often think we spend too much time concerned about people’s personal lives than the impact that they make on sytems, change and the lives of everday people in need. I also think that the issues surrounding Mr. Edwards and his response to decisions he made as a private citizen are very different than the issues surrounding the decisions and actions of Mr. Kilpatrick. Had I been a voter in either of their districts, I would be proud to still support Mr. Edwards.

    • Marcia,
      Wow. I’m surrpised that you wouldn’t see an issue with his behavior. I don’t mean his cheating on his wife. I mean his flat-out lying to everyone about it.
      His campaign manager David Bonior let him have it. And I thougth he was right in doign so.

  • Dan,

    Well said and exactly what many are thinking. I appreciate your willingness to bring this topic up.

  • Well put!!! It is so much easier to concentrate on the faults of others rather than to look at ourselves and see the parts of us that are reflected in those we judge.

    Thanks for the reminder that if I spend more time working on myself and becoming the leader I am capable of being I will have a lot less time to focus on the actions of others.


  • On the state survey: It makes me think that these employees at different levels do not communicate well. Blames goes up the ladder in these surveys, but where is the process to correct the faults? The survey might ask if there are other sources of lack of integrity, excellence, et cetera. Especially in government, regulations, laws and fear of responsibility (liability) drives inappropriate actions. Consider the terrible medical decisions made due to what insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid demand of patients and doctors. Do we then blame the hospital administrator?

    On Kilpatrick: The people of Detroit voted for Kilpatrick at a time when some of his personal and officially objectionable activity was already known. Maybe the people were not being so harsh with the man, or maybe the news media should have done better investigation and reporting before the last election. As with the survey, we need to broaden the scope of persons responsible for what first looks like one person’s responsibility.

  • Walking the talk is hard to do but necessary to be recognized as a great and ethical leader.

    Of 462 executives who were asked, “What characteristics are needed to be an effective leader today?” 56 percent ranked ethical behavior as an important characteristic, followed by sound judgment (51%) and being adaptable/flexible (47%). –Source: American Management Association, New York, NY

    Ethical cultures are the result of diligent effort–frequent, scheduled conversations between leaders and employees about what the standards of your company really are according to Laura Hartman, a professor at DePaul University.

    A biennial survey of the nonprofit Ethics Resource Center found 25% of nearly 2,000 U.S. employees said they had observed their colleagues or their companies lying to customers, suppliers, workers or the public–up from 19% in 2005. The industries in which people are most likely to bend the truth: hospitality and food (with 34% of employees observing falsehoods), arts, entertainment and recreation (also 34%), and wholesalers (32%).

    How ethically vulnerable is your organization?

    Just go around and ask people what the core values are that define your company. You may be surprised at the variety of the answers.

    As a leader, you have to set the standard yourself, constantly keeping your actions above reproach. Talk through hypothetical scenarios with the staff so that they’ll know what to do when they come up against an ethical dilemma and you’re not around.

    Knowing what is right is absolutely critical to personal and business ethics. Yet, ethics only happens when good beliefs lead to good behaviors. Without the action part, all you have are good intentions.

  • Mr. Mulhern,

    I appreciate the advice of introspection and I also believe in not judging others. In this respect, I consider the examples of ethical (or unethical) behavior deserve more scrutiny. In the case of Mr. Edwards, his relationship was damaging to his family and those that placed faith in his words. He betrayed their trust in his integrity. I am not certain what other consequences may have resulted. The damage to his reputation is clear. His resultant actions demonstrate remorse and a desire to correct his indiscretions. This is what leaders should exhibit – an ability to own up to their misdeeds. It will be a while, if ever, before his good reputation is restored. But I have faith in his ability and sincerity in setting things right.

    Regarding Mayor Kilpatrick, his relationship was damaging to his family, his city, and to the state. His continual denial of reality is pinching the shoes of everyone remotely affiliated with him, including your family. His continual refusal to own up to his behaviors is having continuing negative impact on others but, mostly, on himself. He should follow Mr. Edwards’ lead and own up to his conduct and make effort to set things right. Until such time, he will be viewed as one that has no integrity.

    I would not judge him so but wonder how he views himself and what actions he is compelled to take if he considers himself a leader and a person with integrity.

  • I believe that the reason why our “leaders” in government, corporations, and religious organizations are subject to a different level of scrutiny, is because many of them hold themselves out as people who are superior (read untouchable) compared to the average person, when in actuality, they are the same as everyone else…. The pants go on one leg at a time. These are the same people that negotiate inconceivable salaries, then mismanage/steal the funds of a public company. Or, they sit on high moral ground often shouting their “holier than thou” messages condemning the acts of others, when their own personal lives are fraught with sin and harm they have caused. When men dedicate their lives to public service in politics, and run conservative “family values” campaigns creating fear in their constituents about families that look different from their own—and then an extramarital affair is revealed—how should the public react? How many campaign dollars were garnered because of the “family values” campaign and the promise of an honorable man finally presenting himself for the presidency?

    None of us are without sin. If you are a leader in any realm, and you hold yourself out as someone who should be respected—then act like it! I believe that most of the leaders who have fallen in the last ten years to a scandal—knew what could happen—but also believed that they were untouchable and they’d never get caught. I have no idea what it would be like to be that arrogant…. And I hope I never do.

  • As if we all aren’t at sometime guilty of passing on gossip – the media spreads it much quicker and much more enhanced. Is it really necessary to smear someone’s reputation for ratings?

  • I too have spent the last 3 days digesting and dissecting Edward’s behavior and its impact. He violated a trust with his wife. Then he presented himself to the Democratic party as a ‘good family man’ and asked countless citizens to endorse him with their time and personal finances. He did this dishonestly, certainly he knew that his past affair would surface. What if he had secured the nomination, there is no way he would have been elected president with this on his back. Then, the loss would have been astronomical, an entire presidential election lost on his indiscretion. This raises a curious question of the impact he had on Hilary Clinton’s race. I wish he had the dignity to come clean in the beginning, not the end, not after having been rooted out, not after claiming on camera that he loves his wife of 30 years. If this is love, I sure don’t want to be on his bad side.

  • thanks Dan for your words, and thanks to all for the thought-provoking comments.
    I find the two situations in question helpful reminders regarding how easy it is to state one’s values or ideals and how difficult it is to live by them.

    this discourse gives me the opportunity to examine my own professed values, and see how often i am truly able to embody them.

  • I sometimes feel saddened when I read and hear local news reports about our leadership that sounds like tabaloid reporting. Also, I have a similar response knowing that it seems to gain much publicity. In other words, the news gains so much attention when it is focused on a person’s loss of
    integrity. I now have lost trust in government leadership. I
    also question if the bad news doesn’t say to the reader–”
    maybe I am not so bad afterall”! I agree with you that we are
    all human and vulnerable but can’t we start with that rather
    than with judgments?

  • Hi Dan,

    You’ve received a lot of great, thoughtful, constructive comments on your topic today. Good topic, well presented. I think you used enough dynamite there, Butch!

    Tony “Sundance”

  • Thank you all for moving forward the initial outrage/betrayal hype to a thoughtful discussion re: integrity, respect and being/becoming the type of leaders we value and need. From all the comments it sounds like this was a much needed forum and one that we can and will learn for our collective future.

  • Well said Dan, and others! The only thing more sad than seeing senior leaders fall victim to their own poor judgement is watching how many people are willing to delight in their errors of personal misconduct. While very sad to see, it should certainly remain in their private lives.
    You know I am an avid fan of surveying employees – one must expect subjective results from subjective questions. Discussing Values is important but it is like comparing religions – somewhat unempirical. A better survey, with applicable value in the workplace, may be one I used in the Dept of Military & Veterans Affairs for many years. From the National Institute of Standards and Training (NIST) website, entitled “Are We Making Progress?”. NIST encourages our use of it. A much more useful tool for the workplace!

  • While you do well to avoid religion and politics in your exhortations about leadership, the two in my view join the mix appropriately in this edition of your newsletter. I sometimes wonder if a pollster may some day find the common criminal enjoys more trust of the citizenry than most politicians. That’s the politics. That said, thank you for pointing out that (no matter our beliefs) we should “remove the board from our own eye before asking someone else to remove the stick in theirs”, or “you’ll be judged by the same measure you judge others”. There’s the religion. Perhaps we get so disgusted at times with politicians because they often hold themselves out to so incredibly fit for office only for us to learn they have failings, just like we do.

  • Let me start by saying that I must be critical of Elizabeth Edwards who said Hillary should not be nominated by her party. She said these words about one year after she knew about her husband’s extra-curricular activities. Yet, she said her husband should be president. She was championing his cause to be nominated even though he lied to us.

    The mayor of Detroit should resign. Detroit has serious problems and the Blacks in Detroit must stand for something positive and not continue to back a negative – Kilpatrick.

  • Without question we have a crisis in leadership. The events we are witnessing are unacceptable betrayals of faith in those we have chosen to lead. In the matters involving Senator Edwards and the Mayor of Detroit we see two individuals who now seek repentance for their deceit, arrogance, and utter disrespect for the electorate and the public, generally.
    Yet, as I comment on this public display of fraudlulent behavior, their guile and dishonesty continues as more about their lifestyle and contradictions of how they explain things get reported in the media. Nothing has appeared more loathsome in the coverage of these affairs as Videos of Edwards laughing with his paramour on the airplane to deliver a speech or the Mayor Of Detroit ignoring Court Orders.
    What does this have to do with leadership? Plenty!
    The Biblical recitation Of “He who is without sin cast the first stone” is simply not applicalble in the scenario I have been commenting on.These are grown and supposedly mature men who are Lawyers. They knew the kind of scrutiny they would be subjected to when they decided to run for office. Hell, even the Governor Of Michigan can’t go into the hospital without some tabloid creep trying to get her medical redcords.When you have no self discipline, are self centered, and egotistical with a lust for power and are in a leadership position and supposedly leading you necessarily create the calamity that is engulfing Michigan’s most populous city (and the state)not to mention the ill conceived debacle we now call the war in Iraq. Influential and very wealthy individuals, with the exception of Dave Bing who bankrolled the Mayor of Detroit’s Election have shown no courage to publically urge him to leave office. Many National Leaders were foolish enough to accept the word of the CEO of the USA to invade a country at will and not challenge his administraton on the facts they didn’t have and allow him to spend nearly a trillion dollars on one of the most inept American foreign policy blunders in the last One Hundred years. Are these these examples of the types of leaders we want the younger generation to emulate?

    I am not an elected official so it may be easier for me to throw stones but I havent’t been persuaded that greed, duplicity, and conceit are characteristics that allow someone to LEAD WITH THEIR BEST SELF.


  • There’s a movie out in the past 15 years or so – I think it was called “the contender.” A vice-president vacates office, and the president nominates a female to be the vice-president. The entire (ficticious) senate hearing is little more than a “did you ever have an affair? Did you ever engage in x and such behaviour in college?” The VP nominee answers with the same dignity I saw in the Army-McCarthy hearing, “I do not respect your authority to answer that question.”

    Wouldn’t it be refreshing if in real life, a policitican who didn’t have the affair, didn’t smoke pot at a concert, didn’t violate the law in whatever way, actually said, “Don’t bother asking me that, it’s none of your business.” Instead, everyone feels that they must flat-out deny, deny, deny. Some lie when they deny, and frankly, I’d rather not know.

    Bill could have slept with anyone he wanted to – that’s between him, hillary, and to some extent, Chelsea. Similarly, John could have, too. I don’t care about how you treat your marriage; I care how you’ll treat my country. One does not evidence the other.

  • Who defines Integrity, Excellence, Teamwork and Inclusion? How does each respondent measure them? Maybe each one sets a different standard and has a different idea about what these abstract concepts mean in practical everyday life.

    My guess is that the source of these discrepancies a huge failure to communicate perspectives leading to a lack of understanding of what everyone’s roles and responsibilities are, but who has time for that? We’re lucky to get our own jobs done, much less figure out what the boss is supposed to be doing. And if our subordinates are underperforming, whose responsibility is it to coach them into something more acceptable?

    The whole concept of leadership implies that we place our trust in someone perceived to be “above” us somehow, in terms of knowledge, or education, or capacity, or moral behavior. Maybe we’re all mixed bags. Maybe we all expect more from each other than is humanly possible to deliver at the excellence level day after day after day. Maybe we could cut each other a little slack. Maybe we’re all just human, and subject to error, momentary lapses in judgment, poor decision-making…

    …and, maybe we could take responsibility, as citizens. If Mayor Kilpatrick’s behavior is unconscionable, why not use the right of recall? Not enough people are ready to do this. They give up their power to the courts or the system, trusting it. Maybe we expect too much from these processes, too–not just expecting our leaders to be perfect. Maybe we fail to understand what highly-paid defense attorneys can do.

  • Dan, I love you but you’re killing me.

    I apologize for not responding to your overall intended message as I was passionately opposed to your second paragraph.

    “…Isn’t that amusing?
    And needless to say it makes NO LOGICAL SENSE: if each of us were so
    incredibly good then wouldn’t it have to follow that we’re pretty good as

    NO! NO! NO! A thousand times NO!

    NO, it’s not amusing. It is sad. The people of the State of Michigan deserve better.

    Dan, Dan, Dan,

    You are expecting that individuals take it upon themselves to single handedly overpower a crusty, self sustaining, change loathing, culture that is decades old. Let me be the first to point out that is an unreasonable expectation. You made it sound as if we (State employees) are guilty of seeing the world through rose colored glasses and the one who is guilty of that is you my friend (along with OGWD). You have looked at the results of the surveys and totally missed what they (we) were telling you. If you care to ask an honest person or group of them (I have had this conversation with literally thousands of State employees), you will find that they do not honestly believe that they are “incredibly good” what they will tell you is they are allowing themselves some forgiveness and latitude because they are genuinely trying to do their best under less than ideal circumstances. They know that they are somewhat ineffective yet they are grading themselves on intention taking into account constraints that they feel they do not control.

    The results also tell you that as they grade those who are most distant from them (up the chain) they are more and more frustrated with the politics, people acting in their own self interest, and overall lack of leadership as you and I define it. They are also agitated by their perceived inability to have influence and the lack of meaningful change.

    If you want to fault them (us) it would be for having a “we versus they mentality” and not doing all that we can to make things better because it is much easier to blame those who are perceived as having more power and control. Thus we too easily give up self efficacy because we say we want positive change but “they” will not let us change, so why try?

    What those surveys are telling you is that those people care, they want us to be more effective and they are incredibly frustrated. You and OGWD have only served to exacerbate their frustrations. You asked for their honest opinions, identified the problems, got them excited because someone appeared to be truly listening and then what? They have seen little change, except for more work with less resources. That said, it now appears that you are castigating them in a public forum for speaking the truth when you asked.

    I know in my heart that you are better than this. It appears that you are implying that the survey respondants either have not thought things through or do not see clearly and you are wrong on both counts.

    It appears that you have turned on the messengers because you didn’t like the message.

    Your License to Lead is hereby temporarily suspended until you apologize to those hardworking yet frustrated people who had the gall to speak the truth. The majority of them are in fact trying to make this a Great Place To Do Great Work.


    Michael Montgomery

    • Hmmm. I think I was trying to say much the same thing. While I didn’t feel castigated, my communication didn’t come across as intended; poor delivery on my part.

      I think the survey results as as plain as they seem. I think it appears to many that the values dilute as one moves up the chain.

      Bluntly, when this administration came in, it was more trusted, respected, and strongly supported than others in recent memory. Better communication by its leaders was needed to prevent the erosion of that enormous good will.

      I think Dan offered good advice to state leaders, regarding their own employees. They should be telling us WHY are we doing what we are doing, they should be asking what we think about what they did; and where time makes it at all possible, asking what we think about what they’re THINKING of doing.

      And since state employees care, have the inside scoop on much, and spend a fair amount of brain power thinking about things, it has to be the straight story, or it will lead to greater frustration and disappointment.

      Still with much optomism and respect, Clif.

      Thanks for being open enough to expose yourself to this. It will make us stronger in the long run.

      • Clif,
        Well, we have a challenge! Maybe you are right and that the further up you go, the more removed you feel. I have asked our Office of Great Workplace Development (see Michael, I really am listening) to read your and Michael Montgomery’s messages. The fact that you perceive it as such is important; it’s a place where perception becomes reality. Can’t be ignored.
        I wrote a chapter in my book on a word I made up OOTL – “out of the loop.” I struggle with it in my own house. My kids get mad at me about it. It’s a constant struggle, and you and Michael have made the point again.

        • Today, Friday, August 15th, on the Oprah show, is the telling tale of a bankrupt corporate greed motivated system. I’m absolutely not one who touts Socialism as the solve all. Rather, the poverty being depicted on her show today, with a 15 minute segment focused on the poorest big city in the USA = Detroit…..well, I must say, the high ups have to start looking further around them than the Ritz Carlton entourage…..seing the problems where the rubber meets the road. Talking about resolutions, instead of acting on them, is just more useless rhetoric.Time to get out into the real world, and rely less on surveys……go survey it with your own eyes and hands.

    • Michael,

      I appreciate your passion and humor (if not your removing my license to lead).

      Dude, if I may be so informal, I think you’ve way misinterpreted what I have said. State workers are human. I am guilty of alleging them (including my wife, my great and respected friends in OGWD, and others) of being human. As humans – as tens of people have written above – we tend to see the cinder in another’s eye before the block in our own. State workers – high and low – are not immune from that.

      There is a ton of great information in the state employee surveys, and at a statewide level we are looking at it quite seriously. Many department heads are really engaging around it.

      I could write much more . . . but I’d miss my plane 🙂

      Let me know when I get my license back.


  • Dan,
    As I read the last four weeks of readingforleading news letter it Dawned on me what a great forum this has become.
    Thank you and please do not stop.
    Sometimes I disagree with you or the various comments.
    Sometimes I completely misunderstand what your saying.
    Sometimes it hits very close to home.
    Sometimes it encourages me because you like me are in constant flux of learning, experiencing, living, and trying to better those we lead, live with, surround us, and work for…..

    • Rick,
      Very cool message. Makes writing and engaging worthwhile.
      p.s. I have made the mistake lately of reading some of the newspaper blogs. They turn my stomach. People – usually anonymously – vent and vent and spew. I am so struck with this week’s RFL blogging, and how much self-reflective work there is. It really gives me hope that people are direct yet respectful and doing their own work. As my friend Catherine Crowley says, “they’re saying what they mean without being mean.” Very cool.

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