A debate started after a restaurant owner, when asked by a reporter if they would cater a Gay wedding, answered ‘no.’ This raised a firestorm of discussions from proponents on both sides: those who believed the rights of a minority group were being violated and those who believed that a store owner has every right to determine to whom they provide services.
Simplistically the positions are founded either on one’s moral/religious grounds and/or from the interpretation of state and federal laws. While we may understand both perspectives, I believe each side may be looking at it somewhat parochially. They are ‘arguing’ two different points that if continued in this manner, will not produce a satisfactory outcome. Instead of focusing solely on the religious and/or the political aspects of this situation, a look at it from the perspective of a leader would help them recognize and consider the large number of related issues as well. Perhaps a better way to consider this situation is to ask WWLD? – What Would Leaders Do?
What would a leader do when confronted with the question/decision to serve a customer or employee with whose opinions they did not agree? Perhaps they would recognize the power of diversity and individuality and not deprive any person from the services offered.
What would a leader do when confronted with a person who issues a statement with which he/she does not agree? Perhaps they would accept the right of a person to have his/her own opinion and respectfully work toward a mutual understanding and acceptance. Perhaps they would offer the same patience and consideration to the owner than they expect in return.
What would a leader do when confronted with unclear or contradictory laws, rules and values? Perhaps they would understand that “Leaders establish rules not for compliance but rather to encourage growth, fairness and success.
In short, a few things are certain when considering ‘WWLD?,’ for leaders:
• Do not bully.
• Offer everyone the same opportunities and do not deprive any individual from receiving opportunities available to others.
• Allow others to have their own convictions, even if they may not be in line with their own.
• Put others before themselves and work toward the ‘common good.’
• Embrace enhanced communication to arrive at a common understanding.
• Recognize that ‘win-lose’ scenarios produce ‘lose-lose’ outcomes and look for ‘win-wins’ instead.
• Gives everyone every opportunity available to foster growth and potential.
• Respect the feelings and well-being of every individual.
Facts hold true for all. It is not the facts that matter most, however, it is what you do with these facts. It is how you act. Reality is experientially based and consequently is different for everyone. Leaders recognize this, seeing things not in ‘black and white’ but also recognizing the gray. It is in these areas that leaders thrive; it is there leaders find the wisdom and strength within to do what is right!