All posts filed under: On Leadership

Special posts related to leaders and leadership

Listening

Listen in order to move out of your comfort zone

For some unknown reason (he smiles), I had the urge — following last evening’s debate of vice presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Mike Pence — to return and read two of my previous posts* on listening. I had a special need to reconnect with my pleas for white men in power to stop talking and listen. Of course, if you follow the news or watched any of the debate, you know why this subject needs addressing. Vice President Pence talked all over the two women on the stage: Senator Harris and the moderator Susan Page. News reports suggest that he interrupted Harris twice as much as she interrupted him, and he repeatedly went over his time limit, ignoring the pleas of the moderator. Yes, he was marginally more “polite” than President Trump was in last week’s debate. But I personally find the Vice President to be very passive aggressive — standing as both victim and condescending persecutor — and he used that persona last evening to act as if the rules didn’t apply to him. …

Honoring Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie Lou Hamer, who was born on this date in 1917, was a voting, women’s, and civil rights advocate from Mississippi who shared more wisdom, in fewer words, than just about anyone I have ever studied. Her bio is full of leadership roles and “firsts”: co-founder and vice-chair of the Freedom Democratic Party, which she represented at the 1964 Democratic National Convention, organizer of the Mississippi Freedom Summer along with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and a co-founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus, an organization created to recruit, train, and support women of all races who wish to seek election to government office. These are exceptional achievements for anyone, but Hamer had to overcome steep odds all her life. She was the 20th and last child of sharecroppers Lou Ella and James Townsend, growing up in poverty. At age six Hamer joined her family picking cotton; by age 12, she left school to work. She married Perry Hamer in 1944 and the couple worked on the Mississippi plantation owned by B.D. Marlowe until 1962. Because Hamer was the only worker who could …

Happy Birthday, Jimmy Carter!

President Jimmy Carter turned 96 years old today, and that’s worth a celebration! It also brings back some personal memories. The 1976 campaign, when former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter took on the incumbent Gerald Ford, was the first time I was eligible to vote for president. A few weeks before Election Day, I was in Philadelphia as a young college student studying history and historic preservation, attending the National Trust Annual Preservation Conference — the first of 41 I attended over my career. Philadelphia in 1976 moved me. I loved exploring a real city, a gritty city at the time, with my friends and classmates. It was so different than Murfreesboro or even Nashville. We ate food that had never before passed my Southern lips and heard strange accents that sounded foreign to my ears. I was able to see and touch Independence Hall and Carpenters Hall, iconic places that I had explored only in books as my interest in the past expanded and deepened. Being in the room where the delegates debated concepts such …

Dinos on the Montana Landscape

UPDATED: How can I miss you if you won’t go away?

Editors Note: Originally posted on May 5, 2019, here we are on September 30, 2020, the day after the first presidential “debate”, and this is the “egg on my face” update. Who knew that good old 77-year old Joe Biden would be JUST what the country needed in 2020 to face down a bullying, narcissist, misogynistic, racist con man? Apparently a lot of older, female, and/or black voters who understood that basic decency, competence, and a long career of public service would be an effective counterweight to Donald Trump. So I take back the concerns I was feeling because Biden wouldn’t step aside for the next generation and salute him for his courage and stamina. I feel he’s taking one for the country. While I still think the basic premise of this post holds, I will admit to both exceptions to the rule and errors on my part. Sometimes it’s hard to say good-bye. Last week, former Vice President Joe Biden—at 76 years of age and counting—became the twentieth announced Democratic candidate for President.  As …

A righteous warrior to the end

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who passed away Friday on Erev Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish High Holy Day commemorating the beginning of the new year — was a trailblazer, role model, force for the rule of law, truth teller, believer in democracy, and warrior for gender equality. By any standard, hers was a remarkable life. Many accounts of Justice Ginsburg’s passing noted that, according to Jewish tradition, one who dies on Rosh Hashanah is a tzaddik, a person of great righteousness.* That seems so right when applied to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Supreme Court justices can be the most isolated and aloof members of our governing elite. But it was not that way with Justice Ginsburg. Her humanness was on display in many ways and in different places, not just in her majority opinions and in those famous dissents for the court. Stories abound of interactions with her, large and small, that had profound impacts on those in her presence. She became “a feminist icon in her octogenarian years for millions of little girls …