Steady Hands on the Nuclear Codes: An Open Letter from Leadership Coaches
We the undersigned leadership coaches help managers and executives create thriving organizations amidst great complexity. Our clients are highly successful leaders in Fortune 500 companies, startups, government agencies, and not-for-profits.
Ordinarily we don’t discuss politics with clients because successful engagements depend on mutual trust. Political talk can interfere with that. When gathering together, we discuss how to develop people and organizations, not who to vote for in elections. When speaking publicly about candidates, we stay neutral by drawing general lessons from success and failure.
This year is different. The key choice in the U.S. Presidential election isn’t liberal versus conservative or Democrat versus Republican. It isn’t even competent versus incompetent, honest versus dishonest, kind versus cruel, or democrat versus autocrat. The decisive question is one that affects all 300 million U.S. citizens: who will have steady hands on the nuclear codes and avoid provoking leaders of other nuclear weapons states?
On this question the difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump couldn’t be greater nor the stakes higher.
That is why we are speaking up.
In defining moments, leadership involves calling forth our deepest virtues and using them for the common good, even if it feels uncomfortable and entails risk.
This is a defining moment for each of us as leadership coaches and citizens. That is why we are speaking up despite the professional risk and personal discomfort of entering the political fray. For example, we stand firmly against the candidacy of Donald Trump. Such strong opposition is atypical in our field. We coach leaders to create positive visions of the future and flip complaints into commitments. But the President has a power our clients lack: to trigger nuclear catastrophe. We are resolved to stop Trump and elect someone we trust to keep safe the nuclear codes and avoid inflaming leaders of other nuclear weapons states.
The media are saturated with evidence of Donald Trump’s unfitness for office. We want to highlight the specific area of unfitness that carries the greatest risk and provides the starkest contrast with Hillary Clinton: Trump’s extraordinary lack of self-control.
Something is not quite right with Trump. We coach high-powered leaders, some with big egos, but in the land of narcissism and erratic behavior, Trump is off the map. He speaks impulsively and loses his cool. He is adept at enraging others. Indeed, he seems to enjoy it. Brain scientists would call him an expert at the “amygdala hijack.” He triggers the “fight, flight, or freeze” parts of our brains.
This may be fun to watch on TV and at rallies but is a perilous habit in a nuclear world.
Trump’s incapacity to control himself often gets lumped in with his dishonesty, cruelty, and incoherence under the general heading of “temperament.” This is understandable but misleading. The world has many dishonest, cruel, and incoherent leaders of state. Most are disciplined enough to avert nuclear disaster. Trump is dishonest, cruel, incoherent and unbalanced. Therein lies the danger.
We do not trust Trump with the nuclear codes. We do not trust him to avoid insulting and enraging leaders of the eight other nuclear weapons states. And in this arena, there are no “checks and balances.” Launching nuclear missiles, unlike a Presidential veto, isn’t something Congress can overturn. When the President insults the leader of another nuclear power, the Senate does not get to “advise and consent” on that leader’s response.
Then there is Hillary Clinton. We observe her calm temperament and measured tone. We may or may not love the thoughts in her head, but it’s clear that her head is on straight. Clinton keeps her cool under pressure, even when attacked. She knows that on a planet with over 2,000 active nuclear warheads outside of the United States, words have consequences.
We trust Hillary Clinton to have steady hands with the nuclear codes. We also trust her to be consistent, predictable, and composed with the eight other nuclear powers.
Many of us will vote for Clinton because we trust her with the nuclear codes. Many of us, especially Republicans and Bernie Sanders supporters, have significant concerns about her positions, decisions, and alliances. We are pausing to reflect before deciding.
The choice in November comes down to one pivotal question: who do you trust to have steady hands on the nuclear codes and avoid provoking leaders of other nuclear weapons states?
We, the undersigned leadership coaches, commit to voting for a candidate with steady hands, calm temperament, and caution with words. Donald Trump is not that candidate.
The individuals listed below have signed in their personal capacity. This does not reflect the endorsement of any organization. We provide titles and affiliations for identification purposes only.
Total: 112 (last updated: Friday, September 23, 2016 @4:44 pm PDT)
Amiel Handelsman, Executive Coach, host of The Amiel Show, author of Practice Greatness: Escape Small Thinking, Listen Like A Master, And Lead With Your Best
Brian O. Underhill, Ph.D., CoachSource, LLC
Jennifer Garvey Berger, Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders
Dr. Mark S. Albion, Faculty Founder, Net Impact
Christine Cavanaugh Simmons
Bob Dunham, Founder, Institute for Generative Leadership
Bill Pullen, President, BPA Coaching and Consulting
Heather Corcoran, Partner, Next Step Partners
Steve March, Founder, Aletheia: A School of Integral Unfoldment
William R. Torbert, Author of Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership
Bill Joiner, Co-author, Leadership Agility
Donna R. Stoneham, PhD, President, Positive Impact, LLC and author The Thriver’s Edge: Seven Keys to Transform the Way You Live, Love, and Lead
Julie Endress, Executive Coach and Consultant
Teresa Woodland, MCC, Managing Partner of WuDeLan Partners
Julie Daley, Founder, Creative Wellspring
Anna Scott, Colleague
Patti Cain-Stanley, Founder — Cain-Stanley & Co. — Leadership Coaching
Michael H. Cohen, Founder, Kirtan Leader Institute
Beata Lewis, Owner, Bridging Lives (BridgingLives.com)
Kristin Cobble, President & Co-founder, Groupaya, Inc.
Rita Hovakimian, Inspiring Success, Business Coach and Prosperity Mentor
Susanne R. Cook-Greuter
Donna Fowler, President, MindWalk Consulting LLC
Norman Wolfe, CEO Quantum Leaders, author The Living Organization
Bea Rataj, Leadership Coach/Corporate Mindfulness Instructor
Elizabeth Ferguson, Climate Compassion
Karen Jandorf, Executive Coach & Mediator
Rebecca Zucker, Partner, Next Step Partners
Hilary Bradbury, Convener, AR+
Robert L. Weinberg, Ph.D., Leadership Coach, NewScienceofLeadership.com
Molly Gordon, Master Certified Coach
Ken Homer, Founder, Collaborative Conversations
Helene Roos, President of HDA Consulting
Ruben Rodriguez, Founder, Integral Impact
Kathy Burke, Executive Coach & Founder, K. Burke Associates
Sahar Azarabadi, Leadership Development Coach and Consultant
Betsy Cole, Betsy Cole Coaching: somatic leadership development coach
Charles M Carr, Integral Growth LLC
Robin Parker Meredith, Executive Coach
Gina Tesser Phelan
Heather Bowker, Executive Coach
Gini Beck, Coach, Exceleration Coaching
Allie Middleton , Integrative Leadership Practices
Newell Eaton, East West Leadership Coaching
Bob Eckert, CEO, New & Improved, LLC
Jennifer Nash, Executive Coach & Founder of True North Partners
Patricia Weijzen, PCC, Leadership Development Amsterdam
Sandy Machson, Founder and Principal, What’s Next Coaching
Marilyn McLeod, CEO, Author & Coach
Brenda M. Goodwin, Principal, GoodWin Leadership
Linda Olson, retired leadership coach
Julie Rubinstein, Principal Consultant, Rubinstein Consulting
Michael Krot, Co-Founder, KSE Leadership
Kathy Kessler, Executive Coach and Consultant
Barbara Hunter, CEO, HunterRockhold, Inc.
Cathy Johnson, Professional Certified Coach
Claudia Goldhammer, hr now! coaching & consulting
Donna Zajonc MCC, Dir of Coaching — -Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)
CB Bowman, MBA, CMC, MCEC, CEO, Association of Corporate Executive Coaches (ACEC)
Jerry Zygmuntowicz, President and Executive Coach, Collaboras Consulting
JoAnn Siebe, Founder, Siebe Consulting & Coaching
Maura Wolf, Author & Leadership Coach
Michelle K Rios
Dan Eisenman, Principal, EPC Executive Coaching
Laurie T. Rosenfeld, JD, MA, Leadership & Executive Coach
Will Burrington, Executive Leadership Coach, Harmony Partners, LLC
David N. Peck, Executive Coach @CoachDavidPeck, Author, Beyond Effective: Practices in Self-aware Leadership
Ron Sepielli, Leadership Guide & Advisor
Bert Parlee, Psychologist, Executive Coach
Winnie Marie Ore
Sally Hull, Managing Partner, Applied Leadership Strategies
Sheila McAnanly, Principal, Change Agency LLC
Kimberly McNally, President, McNally & Associates
Manya Arond-Thomas, M.D., Awaken Coaching
Eileen Broer, Master Corporate Executive Coach
Jenny Yoder, Executive Coach & Co-Founder, Trinity Performance Group LLC
Laura Tully, Leadership and Team Coach, Laura Tully Coaching
David Emerald Womeldorff
Abigail Van Alyn, Founder, Van Alyn Associates
Rachael Grossman, Founder, Principal
Tasha Capen, Senior Consultant, Future State
Dr. Patrick Bishop, Professor, Marketing & Leadership
Anne K. Auburn, CPCC, CEO-Life Off The Map Coaching
Debra Underwood, Executive Coach
Marc Davidson, Leadership Coach
Sindri Anderson, Enact Leadership
Sue Schleifer, Founder, Oak Communications Coaching and Consulting; Author, The Key To the Castle
Terry Stevens, Executive Coach
Annette Segal, Chief Visionary Officer
David Drake, founder of field of narrative coaching
Dr. Sully Taylor, leadership coach
Penny Carter, Co-founder, Turning Points Incorporated; Executive Coach & Consultant
Mac Carter, Founder, Turning Points Inc.
Charlie Gilkey, Founder, Productive Flourishing and Author of The Small Business Life Cycle