Find the way to do the right thing | Colleen Smidt

The elections for this year are over. Not much change in the leadership at the Kitsap County or local level as far as the warm bodies occupying the seats go, but closer than normal races should be a big wake up call that business as usual and decisions from the past aren’t necessarily what is desired by the populous going forward.

A very human response to making a mistake is to keep it quiet, fix what is left over as best you can, hope nobody notices and move on.

That said, when humans are involved in a public capacity or an organizational leadership position, they need to fully understand that this natural human response to a mistake does not apply and should not be engaged.

Attempting to keep criticism and or questions about votes, failed organizational practices or lines of faulty decision making made behind closed doors or to a small bully group mentality and away from the public at large only makes situations much worse down the road. It undermines the integrity of the organization to adhere honorably and honestly to its own rules. It passes on a legacy of failure that is harder and harder to overcome each time the torch of leadership is passed.

In the past few years, the number of situations that I myself have witnessed in these public forums and applications that I have been asked not to comment publicly or have been taken to task for because my public questions or comments “makes the organization look bad” or is “not the right time to discuss dirty laundry” has been astonishing. These requests indicate to me the organizations first line of defense is to make the negative questions and comments go away by confronting the questioner and getting them to stop, instead of immediately addressing, fixing or openly admitting to the actual problem or mistake so there is not a need for negative questions or comments to continue.

A lot of time, energy and resources are constantly wasted on keeping an organization looking good on the surface only to have mistakes and dysfunction eating away at it underneath. Dysfunction that includes leadership applying pressure to other leaders to keep quiet or behind the scenes deal making to help each other out individually while other members of the organization or public are demoralized by excuses, exceptions and a less than transparent or straightforward application of the governing rules.

It is really rather simple. Just do what is right as leaders. Not what is popular and not what is easy. Honorably adhere to your own organizational rules in a straightforward, transparent, documented and easily explained manner. Keep exceptions to a bare minimum if at all. If you see what could be a controversial decision coming down the road, get in front of it. Get it out there to your membership or the public first. Stop worrying so much about how your personal decision making process, questions and challenges will make you look and start worrying more about the end result being what is best for the situation and the majority.

The public, your constituents, voters, participants, members, players or whatever they are called doesn’t need to be happy with or believe in the outcome for all of your decisions. What they do have to believe in is your ability to lead and govern from your position in a manner that is honest, transparent and accountable. Where it is very obvious that your personal self-interest takes a firm back seat to what is the right thing to do.


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