Five traits of those that are a part of the culture of imperial leadership which leads to failure in Camden.
There is a unique leadership style that I have observed in my years working in Camden, although I am sure that these traits are common outside of this 9 square mile municipality. I offer solutions on how to decapitate the imperial failures in blue, underneath the description.
The picture shows the lost boys looking at Peter Pan, with an abandoned graffittied building in the background that was supposed to be cleaned and rehabilitated years ago.
1. Various jobs
They have different jobs. Some operate non-profit organizations, including ones with annual budgets over $1 million. They operate community organizations. They are political bosses. They work in organizations that have a formal structure. They can lead with unchallenged power.
You may notice though something strange with some of them. They have too many over lapping jobs. They clearly indulge in conflicts of interests. They are both President and Executive Director, not respecting the non-profit legal structure. When are the meetings? Who attends? How much do they make?They preach diversity and collaboration, but practice division and isolationism.
Do not work for them or with them if you avoid it. You cannot “fight from the inside” without being contaminated by their poison.
2. The money
Some of them are masters at getting funding from foundations and donors, but not very good at providing sustainable results. Some of them steal, embezzle, or launder money. Without money there is not much they can do. When they loose money, they blame others. They fight for the crumbs. They experience mission creep to the extent of having delusional expectations.
Do not fund them. Do not write a letter of support. Do not donate. This can be difficult, but remember the he who pays the piper calls the tune. No payment, no tune. Once that tune is ended, a better lyric and melody will fill the air and replace the smoke and the poison that has captured our hopes and dreams for a great city.
3. The flunky
The imperial leaders are kings and queens. If this was chess, then these imperial leaders have acquired the ability of the knight too. L is for liar. The flunkies are pawns on the chess board. These imperial leaders surround themselves with passive staff members or volunteers who accept whatever happens as long as it comes with a paycheck. The flunkies drive them around, spy, and follow along for the ride that will lead them to the same lake of fire that will destroy their imperial leader. The ability to have control of others is where their true power lies and this is where it can be destroyed. A law of power is strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter. The flunkies are like the monkeys of the Wizard of Oz.
Do not be a flunky. If you work for them, you a part of the problem. If you have your independence, no one owns you. Flunkies secretly hate who they work for, but they feel trapped because the imperial leader makes them feel that without them, the flunky will fail.
Remember that one cannot serve two masters. Good people and leaders will naturally attract quality employees.
On this one, I cannot let a good example pass. This is a story that will surely make my enemies hate me more, but I think that the readers will respect the attempt to expose the antics that occur. Admittingly, I am shaking as I write this section. There is a man in Camden that is a known pedophile. He drives his vehicle, attempting to lure young men. This is his hobby and his addiction. He also drives around a local elected official and claims to be the next star of elected office. He is well connected with jobs locally. He is attached to several imperial leaders as their flunky. They know what he does is evil, as he knows what they do. The cycle will continue until we the people stop it. Power to the people.
4. The persona
They are phenomenal and compelling public speakers. They smile when they greet you. They dress nicely. Their offices have a quasi corporate feel to them. Yet, they are secretly tired, frustrated, and depressed. Every morning they wake up they convince themselves that the work they do with children, the guy that was just released from prison, the mom who needs food is worthwhile. They know that nothing sustainable, nothing holistic, nothing feeding mind, body, and soul has been done. But they do whatever it is that they do they way that they do it, despite knowing that it ineffective. There is no one to replace them. Their most talented and creative staff members have moved on to better places, unfortunately at times out of the city. You cannot dare reason with them and to challenge them is to walk the plank.
A smart man once told me that I am “a sucker for nice personalities”. I learned that was true. Beware of the he who smiles, yet stabs you in the back as he hugs you. The devil is charismatic too.
5. The agenda
They have personal and professional agendas that influence the direction of their organizations that have been designed to bring services to poor and under educated people, yet only perpetuate the problems by trivializing the importance of self reliance. They will tell you stories about how they have been working in the city for over twenty years. How they have fought and struggled. They will do anything to protect their legacy and their reputation, no matter the cost of blood or treasure.
The other agenda though, is the one that dictates what happens with the resources. The other agenda is to retain power. Updated 7/4: Many of the imperial leaders in Camden have been able to get flunkies and favors by getting people jobs. On person once told me that a certain imperial leader was great because she was able to get a few people jobs. Once I pointed out that the jobs paid a low wage and that the people were being used as spies, her appeal decreased. I think that her appeal decreased even more when I mentioned that true power is being able to bring social and political change to a community that will empower people, allow them to be independent, and bring solutions to the plethora of issues that we all live and die with everyday.
There are best practices and proven methods of how to get things done. If we follow those methods, we will be lead to progress. There is no way that with decent leadership, we would have problems persists for over twenty years. Don’t just challenge the status quo, avoid it. Affiliate yourself with only the positive and effective.
Remember what Frederick Douglas said, “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”.