Our Leadership Crisis

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Sexual harassment scandals.

Super-committees failing to live up to their name.

CEO’s taking big bonuses while their company lays off employees.

Coaches and universities protecting an alleged pedophile in order to protect the institution.

Congressmen retiring because running for re-election means that they might have to listen to the voters.

Lobbyists lining their pockets instead of doing what’s right.

Political infighting.

Shady deals.

Actions and words tearing each other down rather than building our nation, our schools, our people.

We are in a severe  leadership crisis.

It seems like  many of our politicians, our CEO’s, our educators and coaches were never taught how to lead, never attended an ethics class,  and have lost their moral compass.  And yet, here we are, stuck with these supposed leaders, these people we depend on for our health, our education, our livelihood.  These are people that we should be able to trust.

I am appalled and outraged over the sheer incompetence of our “leaders.” They  have forgotten some very basic leadership principles and substituted them with greed, with backroom deals, with backpedaling, and with cover-ups. It is time that we all get a little refresher course in leadership, so that we know what to look for in our leaders and we can step up and affect change in our own communities.

Leaders listen

Many leaders have forgotten this.  Instead of listening, they are thinking about how what is being said will affect them personally, how they can shoot it down, what they can use to gear up for an attack or how they spin it for personal gain.

True leaders stop and listen.  They consider ideas, assess situations, they analyze data.  They will listen to concerns, weigh the options, and make decisions based on what they hear.

Leaders care

Think about the best teachers and bosses you have experienced in your life.  What about them made them good at what they do?  Chances are they made you feel valued, that you mattered to the company or class, and that they respected your time and efforts. Effective leaders draw out the best in those around them.  They do not belittle, they do not condescend, they do not disrespect.   Above all, they do not sweep dangerous and inappropriate behaviors under the rug for friends or a method of self-preservation.

Leaders are curious

Leaders are always learning.  They depend on those around them for information.  They rely on experts and facts rather than political spin.  They know their limitations and will defer others that can perform or answer questions in times of need. They learn about the people with whom they work. They learn about culture and science. They are always curious to learn more, be better, do better.

Leaders are courageous

Leaders are courageous to do the right thing, even when the right thing is hard.  Leaders are courageous enough to take risks in order to advance their class, team, company, or country.  Leaders are courageous enough to make mistakes, learn from them, and move forward.  Leaders take failures and turn them in successes.

As citizens, consumers, and humans, we have the obligation to ask these things from our leaders. If we do not see these qualities in our leaders, we have the right to find new leaders.  We need to demand more during this time of leadership crises and step up ourselves if we have the constitution.

  • You hit this one out of the park. We are sorely lacking strong leaders from schools to Congress.

  • I was asked if we were stuck with them. I was also asked what type of radical idea this would take or are we stuck with the status quo no matter who we elect. My response is this: It does feel like it is a horribly inevitable conclusion that we are going to end up with the status quo looking at the state of politics. But I honestly believe that we need to hold our congressmen/women, leaders, teachers, coaches, etc responsible and accountable for their leadership qualities. that means getting up in their faces, not allowing them to dodge questions, etc. It is by no means an easy fix and isn’t going to be solved through some grand gesture or the Occupy movement or the Tea Party movement, or any other movement. It is going to take the nitty gritty work in the board rooms, conference rooms, classrooms, etc. Radical does not always mean big and flashy. In all cases it means hard work, with dedication and vision.

  • Corina, I totally agree. One of the major ways we can do that is by voting out the people we are unhappy with. As long as those who lack leadership remain in their positions, they won’t change, assuming that people are either happy with the status quo or that they don’t care.

  • I also think there has been a major cultural shift in the U.S. towards very short-term thinking. CEOs are managing to the next quarter, not to long-term success of their businesses; politicians are managing to the next poll or campaign, which seem to come closer and closer together; educators are managing to state tests, which teach children to answer questions rather than to develop the skills to ask them. Coaches are focussed on winning now rather than instilling the kind of team values that are truly meaningful.

    Can our ADD culture even produce leaders who are capable of delaying gratification and taking a slow-growth path to creating real, sustainable value?

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