MicroPact Blog

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2016: Look Who’s Talking About Dignity and Respect

Robert Gates on Where to Find the Moral Authority to Lead

Michelle LaLumia's avatar

By: Michelle LaLumia

October 28, 2016 | LeadershipEEO

A highlight of MicroPact’s 14th Annual 462 Symposium for EEO professionals was the keynote address by Candi Castleberry Singleton. Singleton is the founder and CEO of Dignity & Respect, Inc., which provides individuals, organizations, and communities with the tools and skills to achieve an inclusive culture.

Fast forward to Gartner’s Wednesday morning Mastermind Keynote with Robert Gates, the only officer in the history of the CIA to rise from entry-level employee to director, and the only Secretary of Defense to have served in both Republican and Democrat Administrations. Having also served as president of Texas A&M University and the Boy Scouts of America (where he lifted a ban on gay adult employees), Gates describes his core competency as identifying areas in need of change and leading that change.

Where do dignity and respect come in? Gates shared with the audience how he discovered early on that the best ideas come from people in the trenches. They know what’s not working and how to fix it. After just two years at the CIA he learned what it felt like to make suggestions only to be firmly brushed aside. 

Fostering Followers

Gates shared his belief that through education and training many people can become great managers, but its innate character that makes great leaders. Those leaders have a responsibility to develop good followers, by encouraging people to speak up and by listening in a way that conveys that their ideas are valued. If it’s a good idea, it should be incorporated, but there is no obligation if it isn’t feasible. Treating people with dignity and respect creates the moral authority that persuades people to follow even when their idea isn’t adopted, when they disagree with the direction, or when doing so involves personal risk.

In other words, the more you give, the more you receive.

About the Author

Michelle LaLumia was a member of the marketing team with MicroPact from 2016 - 2018.