In theater and television, the hero gets even and walks away in peace. For us in the “real world, never happens. As the fictional character Duncan McLeod of The Highlander quipped, “Revenge does not bring redemption.”
What lessons can we learn from the Miami Dolphins, former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, former Best Buy CEO Brian Dun and many, many others?
Frist, true leadership is a full time job. Your always on the clock. The news cycle never ceases. In today’s world, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Reddit, MSN, CNN, blogs, and other outlets are just a click away. And if it’s 11:30 AM in New York, it’s 1:30 AM in Beijing. So if you decide to be stupid today, I guarantee someone’s reading about it Beijing 10 minutes from now.
Secondly, leadership means you must understand what is happening within the organization. Leaders can no longer imply the “I didn’t know” absolution theory. It’s your job to know. If you pick someone to lead a department or organization, pick wisely. Those leaders are your organizational torch bearers. Figuratively speaking, should that person burn down a city block, the public is coming for answers. Or in the Dolphins’ case, ordering a player to toughen up another player seems … ah … insane.
“There’s no excuse for it, and I have a very hard time believing that no one in the organization of the Miami Dolphins (knew about this),” Steve Beuerlein said on the CBS Sports Network, “whether it be a trainer, whether it is one of the assistant coaches, the head coach, somebody.”
Third, you have to lead while providing good counsel. Disasters places spotlights on glaring weaknesses. Great leaders prepare, bad leaders ride the waves. In the Miami Dolphin’s case, executive management leadership was absent without leave as the Incognito and Martin’s relationship disintegrated. The same leadership question is true for the cities of Detroit and San Diego. Where the hell were the leaders.
Lastly, revenge never brings redemption. Having dirty laundry publically aired is not an optimal career move. Publically battling the Incognito–Martin relationship is disastrous. Need examples? Kwame Kilpatrick’s former lover filed for bankruptcy. By all accounts, Monica Lewinski never recovered, Bob Filner pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, and both Martin and Incognito are forever altered.
Every workplace environment has a subculture. Every employee has to learn how to navigate those situations. The truth for Dolphin fans will probably be enlightening. But the truth to you and I can be both right and wrong within the confines of an NFL football locker room. And publically vilifying either Incognito or Martin is a travesty of real justice, often devoid of any positive benefit. In the end, regardless of story, Dolphin executive management, Incognito and Martin all wished they’d done things differently.
As a Buddhist, the solution lies beyond political leadership, beyond the prepared media statement. Everyone must share a view with a larger purpose than simply the “X” or “O;” a win or loss; profit and price. Our employees and family must always be the asset to our soul, not an expense. We must add value to others; to family, friends, employees, customers, community, and society—not just shareholders. We must always be open to thought provoking conversations, being honest, being clear.
The goal is to stop governing and lead. Be better. Be understanding. Give respect. Be more equitable to all the souls we touch each and every day.