I found it ironic that students or employees who bellyached constantly about the shortcomings of an organization while they were still there, upon graduation or retirement decided the place was, in fact, nearly perfect. And thus they opposed any change as undermining the foundations, culture, and traditions of the organization. Perhaps an exception to this is in the uniformed military, where, upon retirement, some senior officers suddenly become much smarter and strong advocates for change, coming up with ideas for reform that somehow eluded them while they were in positions of responsibility and had the authority to make those changes themselves (or at least push for them).

Whenever someone persuades the new woman in charge to alter her thinking or change her mind, she should make a point of saying so publicly, naming names. She may well convert the skeptic who challenged her into an ally, and she will reinforce the message that candor is truly welcome, has impact, and is career enhancing, not career destroying.

-Robert M. Gates A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service


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