In a prior post, I encouraged unequivocal leadership communications, particularly in light of the discriminatory cultural noise that twists and turns in the United States. Since then, I have seen some impressive examples of illuminating leadership communications, such as those by Mike McGuire, CEO of Grant Thornton LLP, and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.
On September 28, 2017, the Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy, Lieutenant General Jay Silveria, spoke there to a gathering of 5,500 students and staff and he resoundingly affirmed the Air Force’s commitment to “the power of diversity.” He made it very clear how “small thinking and horrible ideas” have no place there. (See the link to a video of this talk, below.)
The assembly and General Silveria’s speech were prompted by the discovery of racial slurs handwritten on dormitory message boards at the Air Force Academy’s prep school on September 25th.
The story appeared nationwide, and in The New York Times, on September 29th: “Air Force General Addresses Racial Slurs on Campus: ‘You Should Be Outraged.’”
The General — who declared “respect and dignity” as defining values — concluded his sharp statements by inviting all to take out their smartphones to videotape his concluding remarks, thus to not forget or misunderstand:
“If you can’t treat someone from another gender with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, you need to get out. If you can’t treat someone from another race, or different color skin, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out.”
Lt. Gen. Silveria was a 1985 graduate of the Air Force Academy, where he is now the Air Force Academy’s 20th superintendent. He is one of the most experienced combat pilots in the Air Force.
My words merely frame this example of unequivocal leadership communications. The soaring energy of General Silveria’s delivery must be experienced. Listen and observe this leader’s remarkable clarity, contained in this video of his talk: Watch and listen to the five-minute video, here, for this unequivocal leadership message of inclusion and the power of diversity.