What do an Australian Army General and the Mayor of San Diego have in common?
Throughout the last month, we have been watching with wide eyed amazement as two senior public officials have taken to the airwaves to comment on current and on-going harassment investigations within their respective organizations.
In Australia, Lieutenant General David Morrison, the most senior army official in the country, distributed a 3-minute video in which he spoke to the 50,000 collective members of the Australian Army about his disgust at learning that several members of the Australian Army had created and distributed explicit and degrading emails focused on demeaning individual women within the Army.
He spoke candidly about the fact that he would be ruthless in getting rid of those personnel who do not hold to the army’s values.
Watching the video, you are left in no doubt that this leader means business.
I have often stated within these blogs that in order to create and sustain a respectful culture within any workplace, there must be constant messaging of this goal and it must come from the top of the organization.
It also needs to be consistently demonstrated in order that everyone understands what the leadership expects from them and the fact that it is modelled by that leadership continually.
Ask yourself the following question about your own organization:
Do you know where your senior leaders stand with respect to the issue of workplace behaviour?
I am not talking about the fact that you may have a policy which talks about the importance of respectful conduct. I am talking about whether you see this demonstrated by the senior leadership of your organization.
This brings us nicely (and unfortunately) to Bob Filner, the Mayor of San Diego.
On Thursday, July 11th 2013, Bob Filner released a 1 minute 41 second video to the citizens of San Diego. His opening lines were “I begin today by apologizing to you. I have diminished the office to which you elected me. I have reached into my heart and soul and realize I must and will change my behavior.”
Filner has been accused of sexually harassing several female employees. The investigation is ongoing as of today’s date with the Interim Chief Operating Officer Walt Ekard (appointed Monday, July 15th 2013) distributing his own 2 minute video to the employees of the City of San Diego and following this up with a memo clearly outlining the options that are open to anyone who feels that they may be the subject of inappropriate behaviour.
This is about leadership. Nothing more but certainly nothing less.
Leaders are responsible for representing themselves to everyone in the organization and epitomizing and modeling what they stand for.
If you had any doubt about that after watching the videos from Australian and San Diego, then watch them again.
You weren’t paying attention the first time.
More on leadership in my next blog.