Leadership and Accountability

Posted: June 2, 2012 in General, Government
Tags: , , , ,

Given the free pass that former Presidential candidate, NC Senator, and of course very successful, multi-million dollar award winning attorney, John Edwards received this week, I took a little bit of reflection time to go over everything I have ever learned about leadership.  There is an axiom about leadership that I have heard throughout my entire career, which I am sure is prevalent in the other services as well in some proximity of the same meaning, it goes something to the effect of “you can delegate your authority but not the responsibility”.

While we are often accused in the military of having archaic and unfortunate regulations in regards to how personal conduct is regulated, and what the potential legal ramifications may be for such violations of said regulation, it is necessary for maintaining the good  order and discipline amongst soldiers of various ages and skills who may swiftly go from maintaining the lawn around their company headquarters to placing their lives on the line.  Leaders, commissioned officers, non-commisioned officers and warrants are RESPONSIBLE for the actions of those who fall under their leadership.  They can DELEGATE portions of their authority to complete missions to those subordinate to them, but ultimately they are RESPONSIBLE for the outcome, good or bad.

One example of leadership effects and responsibility would be soldiers receiving DUIs.  There is a difference between a soldier receiving a DUI and several soldiers over the course of time receiving them within the same command or section.  In both sets of circumstances there is leadership responsibility involved.  In the first, generally it will be the first line supervisor, if of sufficient rank, who will pick up the soldier from jail.  They will then be responsible for insuring the soldier goes through the proper processes to find legal aid, whatever additional judicial or non-judicial punishments his unit may deem fit, professional development counseling and the paperwork that goes along with it.  A host of time consuming efforts that takes a leader away from the rest of his subordinates all in the hopes that the offender can be “re-trained” properly, take the outcome of their offense and make it into something they can learn from and use to become a better soldier and future leader.

Now, for the second example.  Over the course of just a couple months there is a rash of soldiers being caught for DUI, all from the same command or section.  What will happen at this point is the same circumstance as previously laid out as well as a look at the leadership and command of those soldiers.  What is more than likely happening in this circumstance is those soldiers are not being provided the quality of leadership they deserve.  Their needs are not being addressed, smaller infractions that happen are not being addressed and corrected, proper counseling paperwork is not being done providing no historical documentation of offenses; overall a climate that is lacking in proper leadership controls is prevalent often resulting in either the removal or some form of censure of the leadership chain.  This is leadership failure and runs contrary to “good order and discipline”.

These examples may seem a bit simplistic and you may wonder in what way they can relate to John Edwards and his morally reprehensible leadership.  His first failing in accountability is on the personal side, it actually has nothing to do with us in the general public other than the fact he is a very public figure and we get to peer into his life because of his life and ambitions.  We all know or can figure out how to Google the very public admissions of how he treated his wife, his infidelity and subsequent child from the affair (the one truly innocent person in this whole thing).  After his not guilty verdict on count three and the subsequent deadlock on the remaining charges and declaration of a mistrial, he has admitted to his “sins”, again, but still denies any legal wrongdoing his part in regards to the charges related to his campaign and donations.  He feels that God may not be done with him and he still has some good work to do to paraphrase his post trial comments.  The sentiment feels more to me as a way for a Democrat to appeal to his mostly Republican, Conservative base should he ever decide to try for office again.  Based off of what I read in the local paper this morning, it seems to be working in his home town of Robbins and if this jack up state voting base and Amendment 1 turnout are any indications, Edwards, Billy Graham like “I have sinned” statements will set him up just fine for future growth and positions of authority.

The real reservations in my mind are not even the legal or illegal aspects of what was done.  That is up for the prosecution and a jury to decide, and we see how that has turned out.  My concern is more over the fact that this is a man who at one time was a serious contender for the Presidency of this country until he derailed himself with his actions.  He has finally admitted to his less than stellar moral lapses, yet he refuses accountability over his campaign and his staff’s actions.  He is ultimately responsible for the actions of his staff and regardless of whether or not he was implicitly involved in pay offs or cover-ups, his only admittance and so-called reticence in all of this is how badly he treated his dieing wife.  Even his children seem to be standing behind him.  I wonder how quickly they would cast the hypocritical stones of outrage if it were someone else in a similar situation.

As one who’s intentions were to become the leader of the greatest country in the free world, he should be accountable.  I am not naive enough to believe there is ever such a thing as true transparency in politics; you can only see as far inside the box as the level of window tinting that is applied to it and I do not think anyone goes with clear glass anymore.  I do not criticize leadership already in place either.  I may not agree with all actions, but as long as they are prepared to live with the consequences of their decision making and maintain a level of integrity commensurate with the responsibilities of the position they are holding (integrity to me BTW, is doing the same thing when no one is looking as you would when people are), then we elected them to do that job.  My criticism is more with the people who will not take into consideration his inability to do what was right, legally, morally and ethically within his campaign, was willing to throw away the remaining days his wife had on earth to satisfy his base needs and was at a minimum tangentially involved in the attempted cover up of his indiscretions.  We have enough issues with people in office maintain their promises and not straying from their oaths of office and responsibilities to their constituents.  I can only hope that his admitted sins before god are not met with a level of forgiveness to which he will be allowed to prosper from the inability of illegal activity to be proven and from the hollow apology he expects normally otherwise intelligent Americans to believe as a one-time transgression, in order to once again place himself in public service as an elected official at any level.  He does not deserve it, but should a majority of folk fall for his hollow apology, then they deserve everything they get from it and should blame no-one but themselves when their trust is again betrayed.

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