It's Never a One-Time Event

culture diversity ethics inclusion leadership teams Aug 11, 2020

Originally shared in A Daily Dose Of Leadership on July 21, 2020.

Have you ever heard a horror story telling how a once revered organization was being accused of things that only seemed possible in poliTICKS or some corrupt third world country? We all have! Quite honestly, it’s tough to avoid hearing such stuff… I’m very intentional about not watching any type of national “news” shows, and rarely anything local either, but they still just seem to pop up in one place or another!

The most recent example that’s getting all kinds of attention is the debacle formerly known as the Washington Redskins. The name change is one thing; but even that appears to be far more of a reaction than anything resembling proactive concern for anyone it may or may not truly offend. Let’s be honest here, Dan Snyder has a strong history of offending even the most loyal Washington sports fans so I highly doubt he just started caring now.

And how about all the accusations that have recently been made against Snyder, Jay Gruden, and a wide variety of players and management personnel. While I’ve never been a big ‘Skins fan, or followed any other football team all that closely, I just can’t imagine all the crap we’re hearing about now going on during either time Joe Gibbs was serving as head coach. From what I’ve heard and read from Mr. Gibbs, his ethics were well beyond tolerating such nonsense!

So how did they get to this place where a now questionable name and team mascot may actually be the least offensive thing about such a storied sports franchise?

We may never know the full story, but I’d have to guess that it all started with something rather insignificant. Someone stepped just outside the lines so to speak, but since they were in a prominent role and no one was really harmed in the process, a blind eye was turned to avoid calling anymore attention to it than absolutely necessary. Then there came another issue, and then another…

We could probably dream up all kinds of scenarios of what those issues actually involved but I’d prefer to stick to a message that could be approved for general audiences… So how did it get to a point where the owner of the team, a former head coach, and several others are being accused of things that we’d typically only see from the bad guys in a movie?

There’s a lot we may never know about this specific mess or others like it. But we’re fairly safe in assuming that if we’re hearing about it publicly, it’s certainly not limited to being a one-time event for the people involved!

In chapter 8 of The Infinite Game, Ethical Fading, Simon Sinek says that “ethical fading is not an event. It doesn’t just suddenly arrive like a switch was flipped. It’s more like an infection that festers over time.”

We’ll look at several potential causes for the festering that Sinek is referencing over the next few messages. Until then, I’ll leave you a challenge to think into what things may seem acceptable in your organization today that would have never been tolerated just a few years ago. Maybe there aren’t any, but it never hurts to do some self-analysis…