Prejudice is a poison that divides and conquers the people that are engaged in this fear based, antagonistic way of living. I experienced the push back from prejudiced co-workers when I suggested open dialogue about challenges. Prejudice is really all about fear. It can be wrapped in all kinds of sophisticated language, yet it remains about fear. People tend to fear what is unknown to their world view. The reasons to remain caught in the fear based and divisive paradigm seems so powerful that it has become the addiction of choice. The moment the fear based prejudiced ideas, words and actions take over, the power of the addictive cycle claims another victim. Soon the division will be evident and things will deteriorate as the organization becomes increasingly toxic and eventually crumbles. In the wake of this process are many injured people (both employees and clients), increased deceptions and fear based excuses for inappropriate behavior and reinforced internal division. There are obvious signs that show us how prejudice divides and conquers.
I wonder how a large, once vibrant and successful organization could be reduced to reactionary fear, indifference and apathy on the part of so many of the employees. Examining the progression of the problems leaves clues as to the consciousness of the leadership that is perpetuating the ultimate demise of the once vital organization. Some members of the staff can see the progression and are verbalizing the prejudice and fear every day yet they ultimately succumb to the power of the administrative prejudice and allow it to control them while becoming increasingly resentful. Other employees see the problem, attempt to be the voice of reason and are dismissed and marginalized by the management. These people either leave or work with a quiet fear and pain about the injustice. Still nothing happens to break the insidious trance and the prejudice and addictive fear based corporate culture becomes more entrenched.
Signs that prejudice is methodically killing your organization:
- Open dialogue regarding solutions to challenges is discouraged, avoided or disregarded by management.
- The leaders act in dismissive ways toward other management personnel and there is a conspicuous agenda that is not being shared or acknowledged.
- Certain groups within the organization are preying on the management fear and using it to control the management as well as the subordinates.
- Unacceptable words and actions by employees is explained away without commensurate consequence.
- Inappropriate behavior is selectively handled with an abundance of fluffy excuse based language to make the rotten decision smell like roses.
- Accountability and work ethic are increasingly absent from the workforce.
- Attitudes of the people are flat, angry, fearful or passive aggressive.
- When the new employee or clients runs into the corporate trance of prejudice, they are either pressured to succumb or they are made to be so miserable that they eventually move on with that bitter taste in their mouth.
- Division in the workforce along lines of the prejudice.
I am confident there are many additional tell-tale signs of a sick company. You probably are naming some as you read. Yes, I have worked for an organization that has inspired this writing. I see the sickness and want so deeply to do something about the sickness, fear and anger that is rampant in our society and being played out in a microcosm way within the organization. This is the beginning of putting words and a voice to the solution to the problems we all experience all around us.
To be a Distinguished Leader within our workforce and society at large, you must first acknowledge your role in the process. Mine was being silent and not speaking up to the right people in the right time. I realize the system is closed that the prejudice and fear has already taken over the minds, words and behaviors of most of this organization so speaking to deafened ears over and over is a type of insanity. Talking to colleagues without action is also insane. My choice is to write and share ideas to inspire others outside of the sick system to avoid the same ultimate demise by being open minded and accountable.
If three or more people say the same thing to you, the proverbial duck is quacking. In other words, when several people come to you and assert that there is theft, prejudice or another unacceptable behavior happening; address it in an open and accountable manner. When the CEO and COO turn a blind eye to the unacceptable actions of the workforce, the addictive fears and excuses are exposed, giving permission for others to control the company through secretive actions, passive threats and blatant disregard for being accountable to the organization or the people it is serving.
The Solution? Be personally accountable without blame or prejudice. Develop the power of your moral compass and be true to your inner guidance. You will know it is your inner guidance because the guidance will be for the benefit and service of all. Strive to freely serve those around you each day, regardless of title or relationship to you at the time. Be the student of life and always leave room for personal growth. Other solutions can be found in my recent blog Leading from Higher Standards. Together, Distinguished Leaders have the authority to impact our world in massive beneficial ways. As Gandhi said: Prejudice is never the answer. Let’s do this!