Friday, April 29, 2016

Ric McIver, Dwight Ball and the Leadership Vacuum

Where there is no vision, there is no hope - George Washington Carver

Author note: On May 4th, Earl's restaurant reversed their decision regarding Canadian beef. See bottom of post for details.

As a long-time Wall St. strategy advisor, I am fascinated, excited, intrigued, worried, disappointed and terrified when I take the time to observe the behaviors of corporate and government leaders.

Since the quality of our Life results is entirely dependent on the quality of the leaders we select (or who are selected on our behalf), my personal belief is that we need to highlight and champion great leaders who are guiding our world towards a better future.

By the same token, I believe that we need to call out poor leadership behavior with the hope that either the behavior will be corrected or that we will have the courage to replace the defective leader.

I am reminded of the importance of the latter as I observed the behavior of certain politicians in Canada this week.

Ric McIver, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, stepped into a potential minefield this week when he took umbrage over the fact that Earl’s Restaurants, a Canadian-based restaurant chain, has decided to replace its current beef suppliers with ones that have the Certified Humane designation.  Their explanation can be found here.

In the same typical, knee-jerk reaction that he has exhibited in previous events, Mr. McIver had this observation on Twitter (click on the image for a larger version of it).

Personally, I didn’t think that a political leader was permitted to take a stand against a corporation in Canada that is making choices based on the free will that we enjoy in a democratic country that embraces capitalism and free-enterprise.

After all, Earl’s is not breaking any laws.  They are observing and participating in a worldwide trend to find better sources (more humane, more sustainable, etc.) for their products.

Mr. McIver, oblivious to this worldwide trend and the right for corporations to make decisions based on their corporate values, has decided that it is better to promote a boycott of this restaurant.

Unfortunately, if he were successful in punishing Earl’s to the point where they went out of business (unlikely, of course), there would be hundreds of Albertans who would be thrown out of work as a result, defying the rules of capitalism while potentially condemning Albertans instead of protecting them.

Does Mr. McIver represent all Albertans or just those that are wealthier, protecting beef ranchers over the far-less paid staff at Earl’s?

Is he embracing this event as another opportunistic political moment to encourage rhetoric-laden, fact-less, venomous dialog with the intention of harvesting points from the bandwagon of citizen unrest?

Or is he not strategically or tactically astute enough to do either and doesn’t realize that his knee-jerk reactions reveal a lack of leadership capability?

Only he knows.

Meanwhile, while Mr. McIver had much to say about Earl’s choices this week, PC Party Director-Elect Craig Chandler went on a rant about Earl’s as well, expressing opinions on various social media platforms that devolved into him accusing Earl’s of supporting halal practices and since supporters of halal practices are all terrorists (according to Chandler), then Earl’s is now a supporter of terrorism.

[Note: Mr. Chandler announced his resignation after this post was written as noted here.  Even though Mr. Chandler was forced to step down by the Party, Mr. McIver can dodge the difficulty of standing on principle by allowing Mr. Chandler to step down instead of publicly firing him, thus demonstrating another weakness in leadership as he never publicly condemned Chandler’s actions.  It is interesting that Mr. Chandler’s resignation also did not include any apology to Earl’s or to Muslims. This quote from him is also humorous - "My controversial past seems to be a distraction and everything I say seems to be misconstrued". Calling followers of halal practices "terrorists" doesn't leave room for misinterpretation.]

Two of Mr. Chandler’s observations are here (click on the images for larger versions):

Despite this ridiculous and outrageous insult against the Earl’s organization and against Muslims in Alberta, Mr. McIver was publicly silent as a member of his organization displayed a heightened level of cultural (and potentially legal) ignorance.

I also worry when PC Party insiders speak in hushed tones about how they want to see Mr. McIver removed for such acts of leadership ignorance and yet support him publicly, towing the Party line for the sake of “unity”.

As long as they do that, he will continue to do what he does best, however that is defined.

And the people influenced by such poor leadership will continue to suffer.

Meanwhile in Newfoundland and Labrador, Premier Ball has decided to balance the books of the the heavily-burdened, financially-strapped Province on the backs of the people who suffer the most.

For example, the Province that is dead-last in Canada in terms of literacy rates has learned that there will be a new 10% tax on books and that half of the libraries in the Province will be permanently closed. This cartoon says it all (click on the image to see a larger version - I am trying to find the owner of this powerful cartoon to give them full credit):

Congratulations, Mr. Premier.  Such moves will be very helpful in helping the people of the Province find a way to better themselves.  Such a strategy will also be a useful component to building an allegedly brighter future (which you haven’t been able to define as of yet).

And just as PC Party insiders tell me and others privately about how their leadership has to change while saying the exact opposite in public, Liberal Ministers in the Newfoundland and Labrador Government text myself and others complaining about Dwight Ball’s leadership, Finance Minister Cathy Bennett’s style and abilities, etc.

And yet, they also fall in line when it comes to making a public stand, blindly following their leaders in order to serve their personal needs or in demonstration of their inability to stand on their values …. or their lack of courage to do so.

Meanwhile in BC as Premier Christy Clark is condemned for taking a $50,000 stipend from her political party in addition to her Premier’s salary ….

…. enough already.

You get the point.

Our world, whether it be at the community, city, provincial or national level, becomes a better place when we champion and support great leaders while simultaneously calling out leaders who are unqualified for their role or ignorant of the people they claim to serve.

When we don’t take actions to correct abhorrent leadership behavior, we get the exact type of leadership we deserve …. and the abhorrent results that they produce.

Ironically, there were riots in California this morning as hundreds of people who oppose Donald Trump for his alleged ignorance, bully-like behavior, lack of acceptance of others, etc. demonstrated that words and actions don’t always easily come together as they overturned police cars, set fires and committed other egregious acts in protest of Mr. Trump’s poor behavior.

So while saying nothing doesn’t serve anything or anyone, burning everything to the ground as a substitute for dialog around solutions doesn’t help much either.

Sometimes calling out ignorance reveals it in other places that might surprise or disappoint us.

The Bottom Line

The world is rapidly heading towards an “interesting” climactic point.

This climatic point will either be one of phenomenal beauty and potential or terrifying hopelessness and disaster.

The world we are creating depends on the leaders we select and the manner in which we participate in the selection (and replacement, if necessary) of those leaders.

We need leaders now who understand the impact of their choices and intentions and people who can rationally discuss and debate issues with those leaders, using knowledge and dialog instead of rhetoric, intimidation, violence … and yes, stupidity.

Are you either one of these because if you are, the world needs your talents now.

The world is waiting for such people.

What are you waiting for?

In service and servanthood,

Harry

Addendum - Earl's Changes Its Mind - May 4th, 2016

Earl's announced this morning that it has changed its position on Alberta / Canadian beef and will work with producers to find more sources within Canada. The news item that they tweeted can be found here.

It is an intriguing reversal. Were they intimidated into making a move they don't agree with regarding the reversal, did they make an honest mistake and need to correct it or do they see this as a marketing opportunity to look like a hero? Only Earl's knows the answer to this question.

It prompted the resignation of a PC Party Director-elect and generated a lot of hatred on social media, demonstrating that an action taken, even reversed, leaves a long-standing impact.

It should be a warning for anyone making difficult decisions to do so carefully and to fully understand the effect before pulling the trigger on execution.

It also sends a warning to business - does free enterprise exist anymore in the age of social media?