As a culture, we need to provide better leadership development and accountability to bolster the essential skills and effectiveness of established and future leaders. Too many lousy leaders are being excused, hidden behind culture, tradition, ego, and fear.
Good bishops have protected abusive priests, instead of the children put in peril.
Good commanding officers have defended their bases along with 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.
There are teachers who openly despise children and doctors who prescribe pills when empathy would do.
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. It is almost as if the masses 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.
Repeatedly, leadership responsibility is ignored or abdicated by individuals and institutions who can ill afford to do either. Opposing forces invest valuable resources to demonize, minimize and tell lies to belittle those who care, who pause to think, or act decisively, or dare to admit they don’t know.
Many people entrusted with positional power develop a preoccupation with preserving their ego, which oftentimes, either by ignorance or intent, inflicts harm into the lives of others.
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. Make no mistake; effective leadership is now beyond important; it is crucial, and I want to make sure that when the opportunity to lead arises, the capable take it and do it well.
Imagine how much more we could accomplish if leadership were less of an ego trip or a popularity contest. What if the number or size of problems solved, crises averted, lives saved, children fed and educated, elders respected and cared for, defined success instead of the subjective smiley faces on a survey or the number of zeros on a balance sheet? 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?
Nearly everything we enjoy today was brought about by a spirit of change and intangibles; like belief, confidence, and imagination. Change also requires courage, to face down those who cling to the status quo like hyenas to a leftover carcass. These poor leaders have a depletion mentality and thrive off envy, guilt, and indignation. They make noise over yesterday’s success, even if they had no part in it. They howl over scarcity and routinely reduce the vulnerable to tears and admonish any opposing views.
Too often we feed them with our complacency. When they tell stories we all know are untrue, and they whitewash their recollections to burnish their gravitas, we inexplicably 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 frequently do not allow ourselves to either.
We can and should require more of ourselves and those who choose to lead. We can disrupt, dismantle and destroy the practice of lousy leadership by confronting each sliver of blind assertion with bigger slices of truth and non-rhetorical curiosity. Embrace courage and demand accountability, results, and forward movement. This requires us to detach from our ego, ignore our irrational fears, and regularly 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.
Despite frequent claims, good leadership is not rare. It is everywhere, but too often, as evidenced by the pall of discontent and dwindling percentages of personal engagement, good people allow it to fall into irresponsible hands. That is why my primary focus and daily activity is to exchange astute insights with entrepreneurs and executives of all sizes and stripes, who want to dramatically improve how they lead. By building stronger leadership guidance systems together we can solve bigger problems that are worthy of our time, treasure, and talent.