Leadership is missing – here are key reasons why

I have written often about the dearth of leadership, not just in the US, but worldwide. It is so concerning, I often go out of my way to use the phrase about someone “in a leadership position.” I do this as I cannot bring myself to call an incumbent who defames the role on a daily basis “a leader.”

I ran across a short and simple quote that popped up in my Linked In feed.

The first rule of leadership: put your mission above your ego.

The second rule of leadership: if you don’t care about your people, they won’t care about your mission.

The third rule of leadership: if someone has to tell you the first two rules, you are not ready to lead yet.

Adam Grant on Linked In.

Think of these rules of leadership. Everyone has an ego and those who want to be leaders have even larger ones. When they put themselves above their mission, that is not leadership. That is self-serving.

Leaders also lead people. And, no matter how much they beat on their chest, they cannot serve people alone, so they need help. If incumbents treat people on their team poorly, these people will not be able to help whom the incumbents lead. It is that simple.

Too many of our politicians worry more about keeping their job, than doing their job. Too many business leaders do the same thing. For publicly traded companies, it is a key reason they focus so much on making their quarterly numbers. Rather than manage for longer horizons, they manage quarter to quarter.

I have used many other quotes about leadership that say the above in different ways. But, just focusing on the second rule, take care of your people – they see it. If you do not, they will vote with their feet.

Stop trying to keep your job and start doing your job

Too many legislators and elected incumbents focus on trying to keep their job rather than doing their job. As a result, things do not get done, as every issue becomes a wedge issue rather than one that needs to be solved. I have grown long past weary on this lack of leadership and stewardship.

In my career, I have consulted on and actually been a part of several mergers between organizations, both for-profit and non-profit entities. Effective mergers require due diligence, planning and diplomacy. It should not surprise people, but the majority of mergers fail to be as accretive to the cumulative value of the two separate entities as first envisioned. Some actually are dilutive to that combined value – in other words, they fail.

One of the reasons is people involved tend to focus on keeping their jobs or getting good money to leave. They get overly protective of the way their organization does things, even if they do not know why they do it that way. They worry about keeping their job and less about doing their job. One of my favorite examples is two incumbents in a merger zealously vied for the same job verbally undercutting the efforts of the other. The boss decided to hire neither one of them as both showed their true colors.

Politicians in Washington and other capitols around the world and country tend to do this. They are failing to do their jobs and work together to solve problems. If the other side has an idea, its veracity is less important than the fact it must be defeated as the other side raised it. The fact that neither side owns all of the good ideas and both sides own some bad ones should make a difference.

These people in leadership positions are supposed to solve problems, not bark like a a junkyard dog at the other side. We citizens must insist they work together. Name callers need to be criticized and asked what they do not like about the other side’s ideas. If you do not like something, tell us what you propose and avoid barking at the other side? That serves little purpose and it certainly is not governance or rebuttal argument.

We must tell people in leadership positions to stop trying to keep your job and start doing your job. You owe it to us to do so. If you cannot do this, then resign – it matters not what party you belong to. You could start by stop spending 1/3 of your time or more fundraising and use that time to do the people’s work.

Time for the adult swim – just a quick dip

We need more rational adults to tell people in leadership and legislative positions to “get out of the pool, it is time for the adult swim.” The message is simple – “you folks are too worried about keeping your job, than to do your job.” The lobbyists pay a lot of money to get these funded drones to look the other way or do their bidding.

So, with the more rational adults in charge, no more Q conspiracies, no more pretending climate change is not a problem, plastic in the ocean the size of Texas is not a problem, poverty and hunger are not problems, gun violence is not a problem, debt is not a problem, racial bias is not a problem, the lack of civility is not a problem, etc.

Finally, if the people in leadership positions start to focus on the multiple causes of real problems and actually use data and science to discuss solutions, then those biased talking heads with audiences will be forced to discuss these matters as well. Frankly, it is highly disappointing and embarrassing to witness how often these talking heads intentionally or accidentally misinform people.