When Silence is Golden…and When It’s Not

One of the greatest freedoms in the United States is the freedom of speech. Or is it?

In this age of political correctness Americans are still free to say whatever we want. That’s in the Constitution of the United States. But just because you can say it doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences. It’s unlikely the consequences will be criminal but there can be consequences none the less. 

The fact that you can say almost anything also doesn’t mean that you should. Some things truly are better left unsaid. The thing is, sometimes it takes even more courage to let it remain unsaid then it takes to actually say it. 

Which brings me to one Mr. Donald Trump. As an American, Mr. Trump is free to say whatever he would like. That doesn’t mean he should. He may very well be right (he may very well be wrong) that a judge of Mexican heritage could have some bias against him. It might even be a subconscious bias. That doesn’t make the judge a bad person or even a bad judge, it makes him human. 

We all have biases and we have them for a huge variety of reasons. If Mr. Trump found himself a different judge that judge too would have some sort of bias. Such is life.

None of that however means Mr. Trump needs to say anything about a biased judge. It was dumb to say, not because it might not be true but because even if it were true there was nothing to be gained by saying it. He would have been better off just being silent on the issue. 

One can only conclude that Mr. Trump simply doesn’t have the courage to remain silent…about anything. He seems to lack the courage all true leaders have to risk looking disconnected by remaining silent when they would really rather say something. This lack of courage puts him in an untenable position when it comes to earning the trust of those he would lead. 

A leader who lacks the courage to remain silent when silence is called for is a very limited leader.

On the other hand there are times when a leader really needs the courage to speak up, to admit a failing and simply accept the consequences that come with it. 

Like maybe when, for whatever reason, you violated standard practices and written guidelines that come with a very trusted position. Instead of just admitting that you messed up royally, and maybe even criminally, and saying you will accept the consequences and try to do much better next time, you pretend it’s no big deal. 

I’m writing of course of Mrs. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the presidency. Her denials, twisted words and revisionist history in the face of a scathing report from her own State Department shows a complete lack of courage to share the full story with those she would lead. Withholding information is a much of a lie as is providing the wrong information.

A leader who lacks the courage to speak up and tell the truth is a very limited leader. 

Sometimes it takes courage to speak and sometimes it takes courage to remain silent. Effective leaders have the courage to do both. One thing seems certain, when Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump say their opponent is not qualified as a leader to be President of the United States they are both correct. 

How to Pick a Presidential Candidate

I’ve resisted writing about the debacle that is ongoing in the United States. The debacle known as the Presidential Election of 2016. 

Rather then comment on the remaining candidates individually I thought I’d share with you some of the requirements for Authentic Leadership. You can look at the candidates and decide for yourself if they meet one or more (or any) of these requirements. 

Authentic leaders have core values. They know what they stand for and they do not compromise on those core values for anything or anyone. These core values guide every decision and over time even casual observers will see these core values in action. In fact, Authentic Leaders seldom speak of their core values, instead they display them on a regular basis for all to see.

Authentic Leaders know their strengths and weaknesses. They know what they don’t know and they are not afraid to admit it. They know that admitting a mistake is better than lying about it and they know that lying is usually a bigger mistake than the original mistake they refuse to admit. They use their strengths to their advantage and and they have the courage to allow people smarter than them into their inner circle to help minimize their weaknesses.

Authentic Leaders are genuine. They are honest to the core. They have no hidden agendas and they know that their success is completely dependent upon the success of the people they lead. They don’t lead in order to build better followers, they lead to build more leaders. Authentic Leaders are true difference makers and they leave a positive legacy that outlasts their service as a leader.

Authentic Leaders listen well. They listen to opposing views as much as they listen to supporting views. They let the best idea win no matter where the idea came from. They celebrate the success of others as much or more than they celebrate their own. They have solid, well thought-out plans that include back-up plans and action steps. Their goals and objectives are realistic and attainable. Authentic Leaders are proactive and seldom impulsive or reactive, they have a vision and they are able to earn “buy-in” through their positive influence.

Authentic Leaders have a strong ethical & morale compass. They know what’s right and they do what’s right. They do not play games with language or re-define words to fit their situation. Authentic Leaders know that trust is the foundation of all successful relationships and they work tirelessly to ensure that they never violate the trust of their followers. Authentic Leaders are honest people and they tell the truth even when it may hurt. They value their credibility more than they value winning or living in a tax-payer funded big white house.

So, that’s a bit of what an Authentic Leader looks like. I’d prefer the President of the United States, or the leader of any country for that matter, be an Authentic Leader. I’m not making any judgments here about which of the candidates may or may not possess the aforementioned characteristics, it’s your vote and your choice. Just be honest with yourself.

If you see a candidate that fits the description then you know how to vote. If you don’t, well, I hear Australia is a nice place to live.