I am delighted that the San Diego Union-Tribune, in an August 24 editorial, called for San Diegans to vote for our next mayor based on character. However, this noble call will remain “true but not useful” unless citizens become clearer than ever before about HOW to evaluate character. With this in mind, I advocate three key criteria that voters use as a framework to evaluate candidate character: authenticity, collaboration and accountability. What follows is an open letter about this to all who decide to run for Mayor in San Diego’s upcoming special election.
Dear San Diego Mayoral Candidates,
You can be certain that character will be a key theme in the upcoming special election to replace Mayor Filner. With that scandal in mind, here are some tips for how to reveal your character to San Diegans… and the rest of the country, since the nation’s eyes will also be watching how this campaign unfolds:
- Authenticity — Candidates, be clear and specific with us about where you truly stand. Don’t be phony, pander, or tell us what you think we want to hear. Tell us the specifics of your code of ethics as a leader, and describe to us the guiding principles you use to guide how you make decisions and how you behave with others. Tell us about the strategies you use to help build sustainable solutions to the issues, not merely about your positions on them. Show us that you are comfortable and gracious about taking the heat for being transparent about all of these aspects of your authenticity.
- Collaboration — Candidates, word your positions on the issues in ways that inspire us to want to collaborate with you, even if our perspectives on an issue is different from yours. Don’t patronize us, though. Instead, help us see that you are more genuinely devoted to co-creating solutions that draw on wisdom that’s beyond your own, and that you’re not devoted to being right — or following the party line — no matter what. Show us you know how to compellingly state the core intentions beneath the positions you have and that you know how to help those you would be leading to do the same. Show us how good you are at helping people with divergent perspectives blend their core intentions in order to co-create sustainable solutions that preserve individual freedom AND promote the common good.
- Accountability — Candidates, show us that you truly understand that accountability is recognizing and taking responsibility for the impacts your choices and actions have on those to whom you make commitments. Show us you are a true leader by being courageous enough to reveal the ways you’ve taken (or not taken) responsibility for prior mistakes you’ve made and agreements you’ve broken, and how you went about repairing the negative impact these created (or how you will do more effective repairs from now on). Tell us the specific commitments you will make to San Diego citizens, businesses, the economy and social responsibility. Not your positions but your commitments. Tell us about the commitments you will make to helping city government function as a servant to its citizens, rather than as a servant to itself or to special interests. Don’t give us rhetoric about this. Tell us how you’ll do this. Tell us the specific mechanisms you’ll create to help us hold you and all city government personnel accountable for these commitments. Don’t tell us that you’ll come up with them. Tell us either what they will be or about the strategy you will use to come up with these.
This combination of authenticity, collaboration and accountability forms the heart of your integrity as a public official. The public is getting wise to this, so you would be wise to get strong in all three of these areas, and in your ability to effectively convey your strengths in these areas.
May you only become a candidate if you have strong character, integrity, and maturity, and the guts to be transparent about these three dimensions.
May the media fulfill its journalistic responsibilities by revealing these dimensions in all of the candidates in a truly equal and balanced way.
And may we as citizens select the candidate who genuinely embodies the most character, integrity, maturity and guts in all three of these dimensions (authenticity, collaboration and accountability).
Dr. David Gruder moved to San Diego in 1975. A clinical & organizational development psychologist and integrity expert, he authored a six-award-winning book providing a comprehensive blueprint for restoring personal, relationship, business, leadership, and societal integrity. Hailed by the media as “America’s Integrity Expert,” he provides keynotes, training, consultations, and media interviews worldwide on all aspects of integrity. For more about Integrity Revolution’s “Integrity Stimulus Plan” by Dr. Gruder, visit www.IntegrityStimulusPlan.org. You can contact Dr. Gruder to arrange speaking, training, consulting engagements, or media interviews via www.DrGruder.com/contact