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Roger Casement, reflexive leader

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

In the early 1900s, British diplomat Roger Casement documented the rubber industry’s cruelty to indigenous people in the Congo and Amazon.

He revealed, for example, that King Leopold of Belgium had presided over trade that caused the deaths of 10 million Congolese in 20 years. Casement coined the phrase “crime against humanity” when describing the evidence he collected of torture, mass rape, mutilation, executions and hunting of the Amazon’s natives.

Casement was knighted in 1911, but after turning his attention to a mistreated indigenous population much closer to England—the Irish—his star fell fast. The British hanged him in 1916 for conspiring with the Germans on behalf of Irish independence.

The lesson: Before you act, think through how your leadership in one sphere will translate into leadership in another.

— Adapted from The Devil and Mr. Casement, Jordan Goodman, Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

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