Quint Studer opened the 2020 Entrecon with a talk on the importance of consistent situational character.
“When you hit a crossroads, what do you do? Do you choose character over comfort?” Studer asked the 500-plus registered participants.
He talked about the city of Pensacola’s debate to remove the Confederate Monument for Lee Square. Three years ago, when Southern cities were removing Confederate statues and monuments in the wake the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, then-Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward said he wanted the city’s “Our Confederate Dead” removed from city property. However, he never presented the proposal to the city council.
This summer, Pensacola City Councilwoman Sherri Myers started the clock on the monument’s removal. All but one council member voted in favor of her recommendation to do away with the statue. Mayor Grover Robinson supported the removal. The city had to battle a lawsuit and prevailed in court, and the statue has been removed.
Inweekly supported the removal in 2017 and voiced disappointment that city officials didn’t follow through on Hayward’s initial statement. We repeated our stance after Mayor Robinson was elected in 2019 and joined the local Dream Defenders in calling for its removal. Read Outtakes – Move It and Outtakes – No Longer Frozen.
In June 2020, Studer came out in support of removing the statue. At Entrecon, he talked about trying to get other community leaders to join him.
“People even have told me that they wanted it down, and I asked them to come out,” he said. “Some of them didn’t come out—and that’s their complete individual choice, but I wonder why not?”
He suggested leaders were reluctant because “sometimes it’s going to create discomfort, and sometimes it’s going to create unpopularity, and sometimes it’s even going to hurt our business.”
The Confederate monument debate put leaders in a situation of whether to choose character or comfort.
Studer offered several examples of situations in business when that decision is being made on a daily basis. He advised the audience to “anchor” their values, standards, integrity, and character and “anchor them deep.” He said, “Then all of a sudden there’s really no situation that we have to deal with that we don’t have a clear answer.”
He added that inaction can be still be an action because it may send a message that behavior not consistent with one’s values or an organization’s culture is permissible.
“When it came to the 1890-something statue in Pensacola, my issue is if I didn’t come out and say something, I don’t think I could ever drive downtown without feeling like I should have done something,” said Studer. “Wrong or right, I felt I did something that I believed in.”
He added, “Great companies and communities are made of character builders, not comfort seekers. So my message is, let’s continue to choose character, let’s make a difference in the world, and you won’t regret it.”