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Respect: Sound the Alarm!

You are a CEO or senior leader and you stand in front of your staff to unveil your vision for the future of the company.

“First of all, let me say that I intend to prove a lot of people wrong. Wall Street, the board and many of you in this room. I have caught crap from all corners about my plans, my strategy and my plain spoken style. After so many years of beating expectations I think I have more than demonstrated my abilities to lead this company. I know what you are thinking: what about the last six quarters when we had to restate our earnings? It is an absolute fact that 2015 was filled with disasters we couldn’t control. Hey, I warned the board and the investors about 90% of what happened in the global environment so this drop is not on me. In fact, they should be grateful that I was able to minimize the damage. So let’s just forget about the past year and look ahead.

“We got knocked in the press and the industry for our lack of diversity. Fair point when you look at our staff composition. But what the press is too scared to say is that when we have hired more Hispanics, Blacks, women and Muslims they consistently under perform. They are disruptive to the rest of the staff, they just can’t keep up with our high expectations, they are trying to defraud us into giving them work visas and some of them don’t speak very good English. I have nothing against all these people but I’m telling you that it has been a total disaster. I dare the Wall Street Journal to write about that! So I have instructed our HR department to stop any special efforts to hire for diversity. If some minority applicant happens to be so spectacular I’m not saying not to hire that person. Just be very, very careful.

“Now that I’ve made myself clear about that, let me tell you more about my plans for the coming year. We are going to win so much that it will make the market eat their words. Trust me, I have such great plans but I’m going to keep you in suspense because if I tell you what we are going to do then the market will react. Instead, each morning I will send out a tweet to the entire staff about what to focus on that day. Be prepared to receive tweets all day long with additional instructions. And if I catch anybody criticizing or questioning my plans, I will publicly insult and humiliate you.

“And this is how I plan on bringing our company back to greatness. No women, minorities or detailed plans. Believe me, this will work so great you will be sorry that you ever doubted me.”

You are a parent of a ten year old who has been sent home for misbehaving.

“I’m very disappointed in you. The teacher told me that you were a bully today and she couldn’t get you to apologize for your behavior. This is completely unacceptable. I want to hear your side of the story. What happened?”

Your child responds, “Mom, it was totally unfair! Li got the highest score on the reading quiz…again! And the teacher put his name on the board and told the rest of us to try harder to be more like Li. Can you believe that? Li isn’t even American and the teacher wants us to be like him? So at recess I just had to let Li know how things really are. I cornered him on the playground and made sure that he understood that I was the best at everything, that he was nothing, that he didn’t even deserve to be in this country, that he was probably illegal, that he was only smart because he is Asian and that he can’t even speak english. Then I punched him in the nose. He really had it coming.”

Once you start breathing again you say, “This is not how we raised you! You will be grounded and you will apologize to Li. I don’t even know where you got such ideas and hatred. Certainly not in this home.”

“Mom, don’t you ever watch or read the news? The President says this every day.”

In the real world we would be fired or punished for acting like Trump. When did treating people with respect become too politically correct or not telling it like it is? When did it become acceptable to find random targets for our discontent? When did personal misfortune become the fault of powerless minorities rather than the powerful decision makers? When did civility get a dirty reputation because it allows for listening and compromise? When did anger, hostility and hatred get labeled as real leadership you can trust?

We are all being naive if we are not scared shitless about a President Trump. Good or bad, our Presidents are role models for our children, CEOs and allies. Forget about Trump’s political views and focus only on his leadership style. The level of disrespect he demonstrates towards entire categories of people is breathtaking and completely unfounded in truth. The “just trust me” approach to a vision and policies and planning is empty. The first rule for CEOs of “it’s not all about you” has been thrown completely out the window. The uncensored vitriol is out of control.

I say again, none of this behavior would be tolerated in a CEO or our children. But we are willing to allow, even admire, this in our President? Would we give a President Hillary the same free pass?

At a time when corporations are trying to be more inclusive, respectful and people oriented, Trump sets us back six decades. If we go back, the future will be darker than our present.

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