Before you tell people what you think of them: 5 Considerations

Last week I asked you to help me decide what to do with a man who is using his position as president of an organization to tell politically divisive jokes. THANK YOU so much for your advice. 


40 people responded through comments on the blog and in personal emails to me.  Amazingly, all of the advice reflects the leadership philosophy that I write about and I adore:  TO LEAD IS TO SERVE.



80% advised me to speak to him in person. 

15% suggested doing it in writing. 

5% said do nothing.


The 5 main points that were made:


1.  “Would I want to know?”

Many people mentioned this. My answer is YES.  Years ago, I received a phone call after a speech with some kind hearted advice.  Today, I am still grateful for it.  Although I felt embarrassed, she did me a big favor by letting me know.



2.  “Keep it confidential.” 

I agree. Embarrassing someone in public will never make him change because he’ll be too busy defending his hurt pride.



3.  “People never forget.” 

Even if he takes my advice and uses it, he won’t forget that I pointed out a fault.  As Martin said, and several agreed with him, it could create distance between us.  These comments made me ask myself, “Do I have the courage it takes to be a leader?  Am I willing to sacrifice for the good of the organization?”  If I don’t (as someone pointed out) and the organization loses members, am I okay with that?



4.  “It could be a sign of something deeper.” 

Marilyn made this point and I agree.  It usually is deeper.  In this case, he is trying to please someone else in the group.  Letting him know that I know this, could be good.  It will deflect some of the pressure/blame away from him (like the release valve on a pressure cooker.)


5.  “Be congenial.  Make it light.” 

Many suggested this. To be light-hearted when you are feeling heavy is a real challenge for a leader.  I should have thought of this.  It is one of the main points in my speech “To Lead is to Laugh.”  People will do almost anything for you, if you bring them joy. 


THANK YOU for all your help.  Now I know what I have to do and will report back after I do it.  

P.S.  One minute after I finished writing this the telephone rang.  It was the president of the organization!  He said, “I’ve called to apologize.  I know I’ve hurt people and there will not be any more divisive jokes.  I promise.”


What I loved about this was the synchronicity and, even more, the fact that HE took responsibility.  He was willing to sacrifice his own pride, a true sign of a leader.

– Shar McBee


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