As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, leaders are watched. Whether you realize it or not, followers listen to you, even when you don’t intend to send messages. It is for this reason that I am often very cautious about staying focused on messages of leadership and organizational culture while steering away from political messages. I have not used my leadership platform to make any statements that may be misconstrued as political. In fact, I value people from “both sides of the aisle” and I have worked along side of both Democrats and Republicans.
I have kept to this practice until recently, when I began speaking out to advocate for preserving Medicaid funding for children. I was even a bit uncomfortable putting my views out there but I felt that I need to be the voice of children who cannot vote or speak for themselves – who better than me, who has the ear of elected officials? Now, I must take that a step further, as I believe all leaders need to do when we face intolerance. I cannot insulate the people I work with from some of the hate in this country but I can make my workplace a safe and tolerant place for all employees and patients. And, I can use my leadership platform to send messages to employees. Here is an excerpt from a recent message I sent to employees:
“…It was painful to see the hatred that unfolded in Charlottesville, but it inspired me to work even harder to model the values we are reinforcing. I am confident that tolerance and equality will overwhelmingly defeat hate and violence. We have a shared responsibility to make our workplace a place where all staff, visitors and patients feel respected, welcome and safe. By promoting a culture of respect and diversity, we can deliver on this commitment and send a strong message that our team of 14,000 will not stand for anything less….”
If you are a leader, now is the time to use your platform in more deliberate ways to influence others. It is much easier to be complacent, but as history tells us, dangerous things can happen when leaders look the other way.