A Report Card on Crisis Leadership: We Can Do Better

Non-critical thinkers spout slogans which are programmed into them, but they are unable to logically defend these positions. The positions are simply accepted as true. Anyone who challenges the position will likely be considered ignorant or a bigot. Any challenge to the position is responded to with anger rather than intellectual consideration. (From David Peterson’s [1988] summary of Dr. Richard Paul’s strong and weak sense notion of critical thinking)

Sound familiar? This is bad leadership, and it’s bad for culture. All too often, when it comes to politics, opposing sides lack mutual respect and recognition (AKA safety)–because opposing perspectives are wrong. Those who do not listen cannot learn, and judging someone else’s perspective as invalid is a tricky business. Good leaders don’t demand loyalty. They earn it.

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

Lincoln was a critical thinker who sought and embraced opposing viewpoints, and as Diane Coutu (author of “How Resilience Works”) pointed out, “Again and again, Lincoln shared responsibility for others’ mistakes, and so people became very loyal to him.” Vulnerability leads to strong leadership. However, rather than a major culture builder, vulnerability is too often viewed as a weakness. Why, as a leader, deny the present reality that you are learning on the go and are making mistakes and are very, very vulnerable? Well, it could be because we have grown accustomed to a culture where winners expose the weaknesses and shortcomings of the losers–and we don’t play with losers. We beat them.

Nick is a school/camp administrator, teacher, coach, and the founder of GoodMenders LLC: building better culture for educational equity.

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