THIS IS GLEANED FROM ARE ARTICLE BY ACHIM NOWAK.  WHILE I HAVE NO PERSONAL OPINION ABOUT THIS WHOLE MESS .  NOWAK’S PERSPECTIVE ON LEADERSHIP IS WHAT I APPRECIATE .  HE ISOLATES WHAT IS MISSING IN TODAY’S WORLD … LEADERSHIP … AND OWNERSHIP.

Ultimately, Paula Deen is the story of a business leader who has failed to show up under crisis. At a time when most Americans are resolutely cynical about our business leaders and politicians, the Paula Deen drama reminds us of the leadership qualities we so fervently need in our leaders, and in ourselves, if we want to fashion a collectively better future.

– Self-awareness is not a luxury item. Being self-aware is not a leisure-time pursuit for folks who have nothing better to do. The more people a leader impacts with her words and actions, the more central self-awareness is to ensuring that the impact is positive, intended, and sustainable.

 

Self-awareness, moreover, is not a lightning jolt that a leader gets once and is then done with. It is a daily practice.  Impactful leaders are mindful and willing to self-correct.  “I is who I is, and I will not change,” as Paula Deen firmly stated in her interview with Matt Lauer, is not a mindset that fosters self-awareness.

 

– Crisis yearns for a quick response. When things go wrong, great leaders notice and respond quickly. They respond clearly. And they manage their emotions.

 

Rudy Giuliani did this magnificently in his response to 9/11. He was not only the mayor of New York City, he was also an affected citizen. But he showed up moment by moment, voice shaking with emotion, tears welling up in his eyes –  and he acted.

 

Ms. Deen’s “Today Show” interview needed to happen last Friday, when Ms. Deen was a no-show on the same program. Three consecutive YouTube apologies in one day were the acts of a person who was unable to commit to clear and simple action. And while her emotion-laden chat with Matt Lauer made for great TV viewing, it also revealed a leader whose emotions had paralyzed her ability to take charge.

 

– Ditch the victim thinking. The more successful a leader is, the more folks will seek to vilify the leader, in turn. Barack Obama knows this. George W. Bush knows this. Oprah Winfrey knows this. Personal attacks can become cruel and vicious. And in a social-media-universe, this cruelty is instantly teleported.

 

Ms. Deen launched into her chat with Mr. Lauer by describing her distress about the lies folks were telling about her.  Such display of a victim mindset is a leadership dead-end. It does not support a forward-moving leadership story.

 

Any leader who plays the success game needs to also learn to play the “I will not wither under personal attacks” game. Victim thinking is leadership jail; it seems to have imprisoned Ms. Deen.

 

We are a culture that likes to let people off the hook. Because most of us are so acutely aware of our own flaws and shortcomings, we yearn to forgive because we all wish to be forgiven, in turn.

 

Paula Deen’s ultimate leadership stumble is her muddled mix of apology and defiance.  It makes forgiveness, the very thing she seems to crave, impossible to attain. Great leaders know how to fail with grace. Fully, deeply fail.  And own it.