My primary focus and daily activity is to exchange astute insights with entrepreneurs and executives who want to dramatically improve how they lead. As a culture, we need to provide better leadership development and accountability to bolster the skills and effectiveness of future and established leaders. Too many lousy leaders are being excused, hidden behind the guise of good institutions, supposedly, cursed with a couple of bad apples.
Good bishops have protected abusive priests, instead of the children put in peril.
Good commanding officers have defended their bases and the predators who have raped fellow soldiers.
Good cops have lost their judgment behind the thin blue line, rather than acknowledge blatant wrongs.
Good college administrators have failed, choosing to save the reputation of their schools, instead of the welfare of their students.
Good executives, who began their careers with dreams of giving back to their old neighborhoods, instead hoard what they reap.
I am compelled to call out weak leaders because there are teachers who openly despise children and doctors who prescribe pills when empathy would do. I enforce accountability because too many politicians brave enough to throw their hat into the ring, quickly cower and become beholden to the monied who mold them, instead of the many who need them.
The loudest voices, continue to be rewarded, despite their gibberish, and too many people have been trained to tolerate the intolerable. Critical thinking has become too hard, attention spans too short, personal relationships too shallow, and the gulf between today and someday I’ll, too deep.
Too often, leadership responsibility is ignored or abdicated by individuals and institutions who can ill afford to do either. Opposing forces demonize, minimize and tell lies in an effort to reduce the effect of those who care, who pause to think, or act decisively, or dare to admit they don’t know. Effective leaders are not perfect beings, but they try. When they err, they are remorseful. They offer to make amends quickly, not disposable apologies, eventually.
I collaborate with, support, grow and enhance the confidence of those who choose to improve how they lead because effective leadership is now beyond important; it is crucial. I want to make sure that when the opportunity to lead arises, the capable take it and do it well. That they shun the common preoccupation, many people with positional power have, of preserving their ego and inflicting harm into the lives of others, either by ignorance or intent.
Imagine if everyone had a great personal goal and were surrounded by people and systems that supported them in the pursuit of that goal. How much more could we accomplish if leadership was less of a popularity contest or an ego trip? What would it be like if subjective smiley faces on a survey or the number of zeros on a balance sheet were no longer the leading measures of success? What if the number or size of problems solved, crises averted, lives saved, children fed and educated, elders cared for, and their stories told defined success instead? What if everyone, regardless of condition, stage, or station in life was inspired to adopt projects that used the best of his or her strengths and abilities to contribute to improving a small part of the globe? What could you fix, enhance, eradicate or disrupt to transform your world?
It doesn’t take much; a few intangibles like belief, confidence, and imagination. Nearly everything we enjoy today was brought about with those same intangibles. It takes courage too. To face down those who cling to status quo like hyenas to a leftover carcass. They make noise over yesterday’s success, even if they had no part in it. Poor leaders thrive off envy, guilt, and indignation. They howl over scarcity and have a depletion mentality. They routinely reduce the blindly loyal to tears and admonish opposing views. When they tell stories we know are untrue, and whitewash their recollections to burnish their gravitas, we too often nod our heads and marvel at their newfound wisdom. We forget, these flabby ruddy skinned emperors are naked. They do not see their failings, and with the risk of retribution or embarrassment, we do not allow ourselves to either.
We can stop this by confronting each sliver of blind assertion with bigger slices of truth or curiosity. Embrace courage and demand accountability, results, and forward movement. This requires us to detach from our ego, pay little heed to our irrational fears, increase our knowledge and flexibility. We must learn to expand rather than contract, be comfortable with dichotomy, and recognize that the world is not stagnant. For every summer, there is a winter. Sometimes more harm comes before greater healing can begin. We can and should require more of ourselves and those who choose to lead.
Despite frequent claims, leadership is not rare. Leadership is everywhere, but we too often look up instead of within to find it. Sometimes it does fall into the wrong hands. We see that in the pall of discontent and the dwindling percentages of personal engagement. I do what I do to help even the odds and build stronger leadership guidance systems. So we can solve bigger problems. That is my why. What is yours?