This is one of my longer posts that I hope that you will take the time to read. I have learned more about the fundamental essentials of leadership in the past 12 months than in the prior 40 years by watching local, state and national politics. Our politics is a solid case study of the blatant absence of societal-economic-political leadership.
While I’ve been saying this in different ways, leadership comes down to consciously and actively enacting the foundations of human relationships that enable unity in diversity. I have talked about care, understanding, respect, and responsibility. Going even deeper, I now understand that underlying these, True Leadership is about ensuring truth (honesty, morality, ethics, and integrity), transparency and accountability; truth and accountability define leadership. Here is the local story that revealed this.
About a year ago, to great fanfare, our First Selectman (FS) announced that we were purchasing a vacant office building to consolidate and house our public safety professionals. They are in 2 or 3 different locations, the police department in a leased building that the FS/Board of Selectmen (BoS) had intentionally allowed to deteriorate over a number of years to the point of becoming “deplorable.” It was a manufactured “crisis” to create an emotional trigger to justify what was proposed. Had the building been maintained, while smaller than needed at 7K square feet, it would have been functional until the integrity of process dictated that we do something else.
There were presentations at town meetings. During the meetings, we were given vague descriptions of what needed to happen with the 30K square foot building. Here are a couple of key things: The building is over 30 years old and not up to CT state public building codes and it is out of compliance with ADA. But it was a “great deal.” For $6M, we could purchase the building for $2.8 and for the remaining $3.2M, we could renovate, upgrade and have a “new” building with room for expansion for other town functions. As we are finding out now, the claims were bogus and had no foundation in facts.
No due diligence was done. There was no professional, written appraisal by certified commercial appraisers. We were given photocopies of “comps” provided by cronies of the FS with a hand-written estimate of its value. Since the commercial real estate market locally is “dead,” the building was more than likely overpriced; even the town’s own appraisal was $500K less than we paid. There was no professional inspection of the building. There was no list of what would be needed or cost estimates.
The FS met with the Board of Finance (BoF) on January 23. They pointed out all these as being irresponsible; the FS was evasive and stonewalled them (my husband watched the 5 hour meeting live). The BoF cut $1M from the budget (cost of sally port and cells) and at nearly midnight passed a $5M bond authorization to go to referendum. The FS assured the BoF that due diligence would be done before closing. It was not. The entire process was blatantly disrespectful of the BoF, BoS and the rest of us. Democracy, shared power, is collective leadership which is impossible when an objective is to manipulate facts and keep as many secrets as possible.
Despite the best efforts of some of us to publicly point out the obvious deceptions and implications, it passed referendum in late February. All we wanted was the truth. The FS retaliated against my family through a town department head; an abuse of power and misuse of town resources for political purposes.
The town closed on the building in May and the committee appointed to oversee the project sent out an RFP and hired an architect.
Fast-forward to late September. While the architect knew that our budget was $1.7M for renovations ($500K was set aside for communications technology), they presented a plan with an estimate of $5.8M. Pre-election, the FS and committee chair had been saying that they are confident that this will come in on budget. Post-election, they are now scrambling to cut back: It will be on one floor instead of two and they plan to ask the state for waivers for compliance with structural codes for public safety buildings among cutting a laundry list of other big-ticket items such as an elevator and other ADA compliance issues, sprinkler system, roof, HVAC unit, parking lot and driveway. The person chairing the committee is an executive in facilities management for a large corporation. If this had been done there, he would have been fired.
It’s been a scam, manipulation, gross mismanagement, and intentional irresponsibility. We were gaslighted: Told what we were supposed to believe despite facts and evidence to the contrary. What is most sad for me is that in betraying us, they betrayed themselves as human beings. The lights were on illuminating truth but few were paying attention. The time and energy spent on spinning BS could have been spent doing things in the right ways and now we all have to live with the lies and those in “power” have to continue to spin a cover up. We can’t have the right discussions or make the right choices founded in deliberate deceit and intentional irresponsibility.
When we continuously double down on deceit and irresponsibility rather than admitting what was done was wrong, it eventually becomes willful stupidity. This is where we are with the public safety building.
Here Are Some Underlying Psychological Drivers that I Observed
Some politicians believe that being elected gives them “ownership” and the mandate to do whatever they want. The FS was re-elected by a very slim margin. The closeness of the vote clearly reflects “no confidence” in the FS, our direction or how decisions are made that affect everyone. He is without mandate. I am grateful that the opponent stood solidly and courageously for honesty, integrity and transparency, shining a light on the ongoing deliberate deceit.
People whose moral code is to “win” at all costs rather than truth and accountability which are fundamental to every human relationship, to love, don’t belong in elected office. They game the system and we all lose.
With the mentality of “winning-at-all-costs”, we create a huge pile of “you-know-what” and then step into it up to our knees. It can’t be scraped off; we track it everywhere. We have abdicated our integrity. The only way out is through with full acknowledgement and ownership of the crap of our missteps. The only way forward is truth.
Reflecting on the election results, I asked myself: In the era of DJT/DC, have we become so desensitized to the deceit, dishonest, immoral, unethical and corrupt actions and manipulation by our politicians and their loyalists that it has become “acceptable” to undermine our democracy and violate sound governance practices to the point that we look the other way and vote for them anyway believing that we are getting something out of it?
It’s up to all of us who believe that politics is intended to be a public expression of our personal and collective morality, ethics, integrity, and accountability and to keep this in the forefront of everyone’s awareness. This is only “partisan” when a party relies on corrupting the integrity of our democratic process and our societal-economic-political system to “win.” Anything based in deceit fails, so then who “wins?” The collapse of leadership is a symptom of the collapse of human truthfulness and accountability to one another that result in the collapse of our society.
Demanding truth and accountability of our elected officials starts with each and every one of us… demanding truth and accountability of ourselves. When evaluating people for leadership roles, the ONLY qualities that MATTER are demonstrated truthfulness, transparency and taking accountability. This applies in business as well as government. In the 1990’s, business treated “ethics” as an afterthought, an add-on to leadership development. As we are learning now, this was a huge mistake.
After the vote, the FS described demands for truth and accountability as “ugly” and labelled those of us who did “nasty” because we called him out and weren’t subservient and compliant. The real ugliness was the demonstrated dishonest, immoral, unethical, and corrupt processes and practices that we have been subjected to for this and other decisions in town.
This ugliness as acceptable is the example being set for our youth. Silence and “playing nice” are complicity; it is how the patriarchal structure maintains power and control. We betray ourselves and abdicate our own integrity. Exposing ugliness restores the possibility of the beauty of truth to life.
Truth, honesty, morality, ethics, integrity, transparency, and accountability are not “nice to haves.” They are the hallmarks of psychologically healthy and mature human beings. They ensure that our public and elected officials keep Oaths and serve us. They ensure that executives do what is right for all, not just shareholder/owner profit. They ensure that we engage with others in the right ways so that we make the right decisions with the right outcomes for ALL of us. There is no other way. Flawed process. Flawed outcome. The ends NEVER justify the means; the means are the ends. All deliberate deceit is being outed, everywhere. Truth is uncomfortable and inconvenient but it is what liberates us.
3AM Observations of a Heavy Heart
What do WE do in the face of the pathological power paradigm of the patriarchy? How do WE deal with these significant pathologies whether they are in town hall, the WH, Congress, or SCOTUS, megalomaniacs obsessed with their own power?
These are profoundly unhealthy people who are fixated on their pathologies. They project these and create a pathological society and culture that exploits, manipulates and traumatizes all of us as human beings. This is the root cause of our epidemics of hate, cruelty, poverty, and homelessness, of addictions, overdoses and suicides to cope and escape our wholesale dehumanization to meet societal expectations of status, privilege, entitlement, power, control, and wealth used fill the void made by their separation from their souls, the absence of Spirit.
There is nothing healthy about being well-adjusted to a profoundly unhealthy society.
This void is the collapse of Leadership, the collapse of our humanity. Leaders’ purpose is to hold the space for Sacred Trust for our growth, evolution and actualization of Life as Love.
If something is too good to be true, it is not. In Leading Life and so others, there are NO substitutes for truth and accountability, they are the foundations of Love. Leadership is defined by the higher level consciousness of human principles that are the foundations of and establish unity: Truth, honesty, morality, ethics, integrity, transparency, and accountability. Leading as Love is Truth and Accountability in Service to Life.
In Truth we are HUman BEings whose Purpose and Accountability are our Actualization as Souls, as Spirit, as Life as Love. When are we going to stand for ourselves, our truth and accountability as human beings? This is Leadership.
Leadership is Soul Actualization, your own and so others’. It requires the Self-Respect, Self-Awareness and Self-Love that are Truth and Accountability founded in honesty, morality, ethics and integrity as a Human Being.
What’s on the inside shows up on the outside in our collective life experience. If goals are externally-focused on status, position, privilege, entitlement, power, control, and wealth of personal achievement and success, we ALL fail as Human Beings.
The choices that we make today create our experience. What do you deeply care about? What really matters to you as a human being? What choices are you making to create, establish and sustain a thriving future for all of us, here and now? Or, are you looking the other way hoping it all just goes away? The only way forward is Truth and Accountability by ALL of us. Truth Matters.