Blog, Leadership

Room without a Roof

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It has been a while since we have posted on our blog even though we have been sharing our vision for building great workplaces and developing great leaders and their teams in other publications and conferences. Yesterday, I, like many Americans, waited with some small hope (like the hope one has after buying a lottery ticket) for a positive decision from the Trump Administration on DACA. I thought about the enormous leadership opportunity for this President to begin to remedy his messaging and brand on America’s embrace of minority peoples and to invest in the Dreamers who are real living examples of the once so believable American Dream. But like that lottery ticket, there was no win yesterday. Instead, these young Americans (yes, I am calling them Americans because America is their home) will be personally terrorized over the next 6 months at least, with the daily reality that they could be deported from their homes, families and friends. Even worse, they will experience the shattering of their dreams for their own families, education, careers and lifestyles. What a price to pay for a crime you did not commit.

At the same time, when I think about President Trump’s extremely poor leadership performance, I think about the great opportunity for leaders in other parts of our society to take actions, no matter how small, to demonstrate what real leadership looks like. Large companies could show their resolve and commitment to DACA by helping their workers fight back. Big Law could use its considerable might to protect these workers through the agencies and courts. And even if there is no legal or administrative recourse, it would be a wonderful demonstration of our values to have these power players at and on the side of these young adults as they traverse their uncertain futures.

Happily, I get to play favorites here and highlight the great actions of one of my very favorite leaders, Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. True to form, he took the correct leadership step that I imagined in his open letter to Apple employees. His message “walked” the talk of Apple’s values, showed business savvy, reinforced employee engagement, and tangibly demonstrated tenacity for getting things done. Mr. Cook’s actions were timely, unequivocal, and hopeful, yet clear on the results he desired. Here is an excerpt of his open letter:

    “I want to assure you that Apple will work with members of Congress from both parties to advocate for a legislative solution that provides permanent protections for all the Dreamers in our country.
    We are also working closely with each of our co-workers to provide them and their families the support they need, including the advice of immigration experts.
    On behalf of the hundreds of employees at Apple whose futures are at stake; on behalf of their colleagues and on behalf of the millions more across America who believe, as we do, in the power of dreams, we issue an urgent plea for our leaders in Washington to protect the Dreamers so their futures can never be put at risk in this way again.
    Despite this setback for our nation, I’m confident that American values will prevail and we will continue our tradition of welcoming immigrants from all nations. I’ll do whatever I can to assure this outcome.”  Tim Cook CEO, Apple

This is leadership at its best! And, though I have more Apple products than I could possibly need, I will buy and upgrade more this holiday season. When corporate American shows up in this way, I will support it. I hope you will too!