Organizing Around Values: Reflecting on Insurrection at the US Capitol

TV reporter camera equipment destroyed and trashed
January 8, 2021
January 14, 2021
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As a trained journalist at America’s oldest journalism school and a confessed news junkie, I awoke emotionally and physically exhausted yesterday morning, still in disbelief, and yes, very sad.

What we all watched unfold across the networks and cable television was the unthinkable—the unimaginable.  To me personally, the images of the mob totally trashing broadcast crews’ equipment was again a reminder of the risks responsible journalists take to bring us to witness such historic moments around the globe. In 2020, 50 journalists died in the line of duty according to Reporters Without Borders. Thankfully, none of my fellow journalists were among the five dead whom we mourn.

Screenshot of Twitter post depicting an attack on TV reporters outside of US Capitol.
Via @kemettler on Twitter
TV reporter camera equipment destroyed and trashed in front of US Capitol Building.
Via @kemettler on Twitter
TV reporter camera equipment destroyed and trashed in front of US Capitol Building.
Via @kemettler on Twitter
TV reporter camera equipment destroyed and trashed in front of US Capitol Building.
Via @kemettler on Twitter

Robert S. Hartman, PhD, (1920 - 1973) a German-American, logician and philosopher, taught us that a leader can “organize power around goodness” and people will follow. Unfortunately one can also “organize power around evil” as Hitler demonstrated. Yesterday, we witnessed the destructiveness of evil in our nation’s capital.

Hartman focused on measuring goodness in individuals and it resulted in his “values-based,” quantitative assessment. It is unique in the insights it produces as the assessment measures the capacity for good judgment a leader exercises under the stress of the unknown. Leaders are defined by how they handle these critical moments.  

“It is in the handling of the unexpected that leaders are broken, shamed, replaced, recast, reinvigorated, reaffirmed, forged and revealed,” writes Marsha Lindsay, CEO, Lindsay, Foresight & Stratagem in In Business Madison magazine this month. “It is how a person handles the unknowns that determines whether others decide to follow them. By definition, without followers, one is not a leader.”

That judgment is also what will define a leader’s legacy. One of the first questions I ask CEOs that I consult with is, “What will be your legacy?” It is very clear today, this president’s legacy is carved in stone.

Thankfully, the sun rose again this morning. Our resilience as an American people will also rise up to help us begin the healing that must take place at this pivotal and delicate period in our democracy.

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