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  • Kevin “Special K” Daley

What You as a Leader Can Learn from Omarosa and John Kelly

Set an Example by Being Completely Above Reproach

Omarosa’s recording revealed that there may have been integrity issues on her part in terms of how she used government property. Now, the allegation is so unclear and vague that it really doesn’t seem to hold much water, but that’s not my point. Integrity, especially when it comes to potentially fire-able offenses, should be so easy to spot and so clear that no one in their right mind could accuse you of anything less than total loyalty and honesty.

And this example of integrity is contagious. Your employees or team will only rise to the level of integrity that you do, and in fact, if you are not above reproach, some of your team members who value integrity may in fact lose respect for you. The point is to avoid any situation in which your integrity could ever be called into question. Using common sense and asking the question, “Is there any way someone could bring a false accusation against me in this situation?” will help you stay out of unnecessary suspicion. Everything from how you meet with employees to how you handle $5 from the petty cash drawer must be transparent and open to scrutiny.

Set an Example by Being Forthright

Kelly’s way of firing Omarosa was imprecise and ambiguous:

“It's come to my attention over the last few months that there's been some pretty, in my opinion, significant integrity issues related to you and use of government vehicles and some other issues … And the issue that you may or may not have a full appreciation for, but I think you do, this would be a pretty high level of accountability.”

What does all that even mean? If she truly did something wrong, she should have been presented with undeniable facts, not a pseudo-accusing vague accusation. Or if Kelly just didn’t like the job she was doing, he should have just said so. Admittedly, in a government situation in which double-speak seems to be normal, perhaps that’s a run-of-the-mill way to fire someone. But this type of elusiveness in the private sector is a good way to get in legal hot water or to have high employee turnover. Just say what you mean and mean what you say. If you don’t, you will slowly erode the trust you need from those around you.


Kevin Daley, a former professional basketball player and 10-year veteran and captain of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters, is an award-winning author, speaker, and leadership consultant. His newest book, 1 plus one = TEN: The Secret LEADERSHIP Formula only ELITE Leaders Know, is a must-read for both seasoned leaders in any field and up-and-coming young future leaders.

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