N. Charles Anderson, the current president and CEO of the Detroit Urban League, was reappointed in Jan. 1997, after previously serving from 1987 to 1994. He is responsible for implementing the vision, leadership and direction of one of Detroit’s premier human services and civil rights organizations.
Anderson enjoys reading, golf and travel. A native of Charlotte, North Carolina, he is married with three daughters and has nine beautiful grandchildren. Anderson took a moment out of his busy schedule to speak with us about leadership and his unwavering commitment to his community and the youth therein.
Describe your leadership style.
A person of humanity, humility — someone who does not ask people to do more than I would do myself. I try to have a style of inclusivity, listening to what other people have to say. Also, it’s important that I’m giving the employees and the managers space to do their work. I encourage them to use their own ingenuity and intellect to improve upon services or do the best job with it. So, I’m just fundamental. I don’t have a problem with answering the phone and think there’s benefit to a CEO, getting down in the trenches, occasionally. I have sat at the front desk and just answered the phone. You learn a lot by what people are asking for and what they’re calling about. You learn the pattern of calls. That helps me make decisions about how the staff will manage the front desk.
How do you ensure the police are held accountable for misconduct?
I had an opportunity to ride in a police car to understand how police officers work. Police officers need to be held accountable. We’re hiring human beings that shouldn’t be given free rein to do as they please and not be held accountable. Looking at Chauvin, when it becomes a crime to walk down the street and somebody claims you looked suspicious, the question should have been why they look suspicious.
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