A Giant Stumbles

Geoffrey X Lane

What to do when the giant stumbles?

As a business leader, I’m sure you are aware of how different the current President of the United States is from his predecessor. If you lead a business in the United States, or you do business in the United States do you express your political opinion?

Do you fear that the United States government is tracking your comments, and may reach out and deny you entry into the United States? Or do you wonder as a leader, will your company be punished if you speak up and display your displeasure with the action or executive order?

Perhaps you are asking questions like “Should you allow your company or your opinion to be politicized? Should you take political action or speak out against political action? What are the consequences of speaking up? And on a deeper level, “What are the consequences when you do not speak?”

This was part of a discussion that several friends and I had concerning the current political atmosphere and actions being taken in the United States. Several of us were consultants from outside of the United States and the balance were doing business in the United States, often with federal agencies. We had mixed feelings about being involved in the political turmoil and yet it seems we may not be able to avoid it, at the end of the discussion we decided we must speak up.

Would you share with us some of the opinions from your group of friends or answers to the above questions?

History teaches us, that not to speak up has serious consequences and yet you could argue that history will not repeat itself. But if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it probably is a duck. Look at the history of Germany, Russia and Uganda.

Am I suggesting that we are at the same place? “No!” We are at a beginning of change and as such need to be wary. A few months ago, I wrote a piece about the US Presidential race offering advice, I then received an email from a US client advising me that making commentary about the US election might not be good for business.

I must say that gave me great pause for thought, after all I am a Canadian not an American and I work with several US companies.

Over the next four years we may witness the giant stumble many times.

Will you stay quiet for the sake of business or do you intend to speak up? Or will you speak up only if it affects your business? Will you be quiet at staff meetings and planning sessions when staff bring up their feelings about the changes happening?

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