Perspectives on Leadership Choices

As children our heroes are spider-man, superman etc. and we are proud of our choices. As adults we believe that we have maturity to select our heroes and leaders, since we are rational and intelligent human beings.

I think somewhere we are making wrong choices without realizing it. For example, in democratic countries the politicians are chosen by the public, however we are completely surprised and dismayed when stories come in media that they have done something unethical.

Our choices for present day role models could improve a lot. For example, Paris Hilton is a celebrity who is most often covered in the media for all the wrong reasons – drug abuse, criminal prosecution, skin show, parties and sex romps. She has the wealth and beauty which the public can never dream of having. However, the messages she is giving are all wrong. If a woman from middle class family would be behaving this way, we would think she needs psychological counseling as her behavior is weird. But Paris Hilton is rich, so she becomes a role model for youngsters.

In this post I am covering three articles, which indicate that we are making somewhat wrong choices, and the reason for the same. Click on the headings to read the article.

1.       Christian Activist Bryan Fischer Blasts ‘Feminized’ Medal Of Honor (via Politics Daily)

Army Sgt. Salvatore Giunta  was awarded the  Medal of Honor. According to the US Army’s officla citation Sgt. Giunta “exposed himself to withering enemy fire” to save other wounded soldiers.

The Washington Post has described the incident as follows:

“Under a bright Afghan moon, eight U.S. paratroopers trudged along a ridge in the Korengal Valley, unaware they were walking right into a trap. Less than 20 feet away, a band of Taliban fighters executed the ambush plan perfectly, enveloping the paratrooper squad in an explosion of bullets and grenades

Salvatore Giunta, a 22-year-old Army specialist from Hiawatha, Iowa, was knocked flat by the gunfire; luckily, a well-aimed round failed to penetrate his armored chest plate. As the paratroopers tried to gather their senses and scramble for a shred of cover, Giunta reacted instinctively, running straight into the teeth of the ambush to aid three wounded soldiers, one by one, who had been separated from the others.

Two paratroopers died in the Oct. 25, 2007, attack, and most of the others suffered serious wounds. But the toll would have been far higher if not for the bravery of Giunta, according to members of his unit and Army officials.”

However,  in Politics Daily Brain Fisher has described the medal of honor as feminized. Read the paragraph below to understand what he means.

“When we think of heroism in battle, we used the think of our boys storming the beaches of Normandy under withering fire, climbing the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc while enemy soldiers fired straight down on them, and tossing grenades into pill boxes to take out gun emplacements,” wrote Fischer, director of issue analysis for the AFA, a longtime lobby on the Christian right. “That kind of heroism has apparently become passé when it comes to awarding the Medal of Honor. We now award it only for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them.”

“So the question is this: when are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things, so our families can sleep safely at night?” he asked.

If I stretch this logic and use Hitler and Gandhi as metaphor, then Hitler was a hero for killing enemies in WW II and Gandhi was a wimp for attempting to save human lives during partition. Is it more important to save lives or kill people? Who do you think is the hero?

2.     The U.S. Epidemic of Workplace Dysfunction Resulting in Unlawful Employer Practices (via Workplace Credible Activist)

Recently in US Dodd-Frank Act was introduced. The Act is being debated as under it has a provision of awarding 10 to 30% of monetary sanctions  to the whistleblowers if the amount of recovery after enforcement action is more than US $ 1 million. The act is introduced to motivate employees to report regarding fraudulent practices being followed by their organization. Ideally all employees and specially risk managers should be reporting these incidents if they maintain moral high ground. However, the risk of retaliation from senior managers and colleagues is so high and damages so severe, that most employees prefer to turn a blind eye.

Read the paragrah below from Workplace Credible Activist. It is a September post which is gathering momentum to get support for employees to do the right thing.

 Given that all government employees are required to report legal and ethical noncompliance, mandatory impartial investigations must be implemented without exception and accompanied by absolute prevention of unlawful retaliation against complaining employees. There must be a freeze on any termination of any complaining employee while a sound, impartial, unbiased and thorough investigation is completed, and even afterwards, retaliation against complainants must be prevented.

Violations of EEO, OSHA, public safety, retaliation protections, whistleblower protections, ADA, union-protections and fraud/corruption prevention laws must be classified as serious crimes that result in prosecution. There is extremely insufficient protection for employees who use appropriate channels to report noncompliance in both government and corporate workplaces.

In case of employees who take moral high ground and report corporate wrong doings, they are protecting the society by safeguarding the interest of  investors and employees. They should be considered as heroes, however the public punishes them severely for following the right path. The top management is cushioned and protected by the colleagues who support the wrong doing. Here do you not think that we are making wrong choices of selecting our heroes?

3.       What motivates us to select wrong heroes?

People would agree when I say that most of us know the difference between right and wrong. Then why do we choose the wrong heroes and is some cases consider the actual heroes to be devil’s incarnation. We consider the real heroes to be monsters and punish them for being heroic. This doesn’t sound rational, and we think we would not do something like that. Philip Zimbardo in this short video regarding Stanford Prison Experiment explains that when we think that we will be punished for someone else’s heroism we instead of appreciating the heroism, attack the person.  This indicates, that we appreciate heroism as long as it makes us feel good, benefits us or serves our self interest.

Amazing isn’t it, that as adults we sometimes can’t make the right decisions on choosing our heroes and leaders. The question is how do we think more rationally and choose our heroes based on their contribution to society as a whole?