Two months and counting. Truthfully, did you believe that the Occupy movement would have lasted this long? Protests happen all the time in this country. Travel to Washington, DC on virtually any day and you will see some group making their presence felt and beliefs known. The freedom to assemble and communicate your opinion is a sacred right in our country that was founded on a protest movement. And yet, we haven’t seen a movement like since … last year if you understand that the Occupy movement – while different in its goals – was born out of a frustration that shares striking similarities to the Tea Party. So what can leaders learn from a movement that has captured the news and proven to be more than just a group of people gathering to share their dissatisfaction? Here are four lessons:
The numbers are in, and people lack confidence. Not all people, but enough of them to slow consumer spending and business investment. Lack of confidence changes behavior. Confident consumers spend more money because they believe the future will be positive. Confident sales people make more sales because they trust their ability and the value of their product. Confident companies invest in innovation, talent development, and new equipment because they believe that they will be rewarded for their investment.
President Obama’s falling approval rating came up during a conversation with my friend, Larry Winget, and it started me thinking: Is he becoming the next Glenn Beck? The mere thought of this comparison is likely to explode heads on both ends of the political spectrum. So wrap yourself in duct tape and hang with me for a moment. There are interesting similarities and a leadership lesson for everyone.
Someone recently asked me why I use so many examples from political leaders when discussing effective leadership. Isn’t it obvious? Every week elected leaders and candidates give us something that is simply too good to ignore. This week’s example is the brou ha ha over President Obama’s bus trip through the heartland. In case you missed it, a number of people were upset that the President left his “real job” in Washington to ride through the middle of the U.S. on a new tricked out bus while conducting town hall meetings and visiting the Fair. To the President’s detractors, this was a blatantly political act designed to take the focus off of the two leading Republican presidential candidates, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Governor Rick Perry. Bachmann and Perry were also taking time away from their “real jobs” to ride through America’s heartland on tricked out buses attending town hall meetings and Fairs. The only apparent difference is that they were asking people to give them a new job while on the clock at their current job while the President was accused of asking people if he could keep his current job.
What’s not to like? Millions of like-minded people promoting limited federal government, individual freedoms, personal responsibility, free markets, and a return of political power to the states and the people. How could anyone argue that the Tea Party is a bad thing? Oh wait! That can’t be right. The Tea Party is actually millions of small-minded people who engage in racist behaviors and want to take away the power of the federal government to set policy and help society by cutting the funding to every social program that they don’t like. So which is it? The answer is, “It depends on your point of view.”
Timothy Geithner must go for two reasons: (1) he’s expendable: and (2) he has become a distraction. Geithner didn’t vote on a single debt proposal, and yet he played a significant role in the crisis. This is what happens when coaches are fired. The coach isn’t on the field making the plays, and you would think that players would be committed enough to play hard for the common good. But when you can’t fire the team, you often fire the coach. You can’t fire an elected official, and the public and financial markets want someone held accountable. It is unfortunate and perhaps even a little unfair. Sorry Tim, you need to go.
Let the debating begin. Congressman Anthony Weiner’s revelation that he exercised terrible judgment by Tweeting an inappropriate photo to a woman he had met on line raises scores of questions for leaders. It is certain to dominate the news cycle until one of three things happens:
Public employee unions could significantly increase their chances for voter support by taking the lead – or at least working together with their opponents – on the following actions: 1. Take strikes, work stoppages, and slowdowns off the table. The public has a right to expect that its public agencies continue to function even if there is a disagreement over terms of the contract. In return for this, public employee unions should receive the right for expedited arbitration over violations of the contract.
The standoff between Republican elected officials and their Democratic colleagues over the roll and scope of collective bargaining with public sector unions has escalated to the point where rhetoric has overtaken reason. So let’s look at what this means and why public sector unions could become extinct.
I posted a link to a survey on my Facebook and Twitter pages on the day following the election. In the days that followed, a small group of people responded to five questions about what motivated their vote and what they believe it means.