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.
Dishonesty is not new, but let’s be honest—our society has raised the rationalization of dishonesty to an art form. When it comes to the truth, we embellish, expand, enrich, soften, shave, stretch, and withhold. We misspeak, pretend, bend, and improve. We are guilty of mistakes, misjudgment, and truthful hyperbole. We exaggerate, spin, filter, and inflate. However, we rarely—or perhaps even never—believe that we are guilty of dishonesty.
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.
When I think of a “philanthropist,” I see someone like Bono, Oprah, or Bill Gates. I imagine that they wake up in the morning thinking about opportunities to influence the world for their cause. I, on the other hand, have a mortgage. I would like to spend my day tackling huge social and economic problems, but I have holes in my calendar that must be filled to pay my bills.
“We don’t trust them!” This phrase has become synonymous with a prevalent, if not majority, response when people are asked about their leader’s ability to affect positive change. Almost continuous rounds of cost-cutting; feelings that [...]
The trials of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and disgraced self-help guru James Arthur Ray both ended in guilty verdicts. Blagojevich was found guilty on 17 of 20 counts of corruption. Ray was found guilty of three counts of negligent homicide from deaths in a sweat lodge ceremony. And though some would argue that the verdicts in both cases were never in doubt, the results could have gone either way. Here are three lessons leaders can learn from these two seemingly unrelated cases:
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:
Donald Trump commented that President Obama needs to spend less time on the basketball court and more time fixing the economy. All the protests you would expect followed along with calls from all sides that we need to change the culture of racism perpetuated through the use of stereotypes and assumptions. It turns out that there are a multitude of culture problems.
The core of every noncommissioned officer’s commitment is articulated in the NCO Creed. It defines how each member of the NCO Corps views his or her responsibility as a leader. And, there is no better model for your success.
The debate of divergent ideas consumes the airwaves. It streams across the Internet in a multitude of bits and bytes; and it populates the pages of the print media. Most important, it occupies the time, energy, and resources of our leaders. So how is the debate working so far? Are you seeing results? The absence of respect – for the process, the opposition, and the people being governed – is a prime culprit in our failure to act and deliver results.
Southwest Airlines faced a dilemma early in its operation—a cash shortage was forcing it to sell one of its four airplanes. The implications are obvious—selling the airplane generates cash for operations and cuts capacity to generate future revenue. Government leaders are facing their version of this challenge in budget meetings across the country. Should we raise taxes and fees in a difficult economy, or do we cut services at a time when they may be needed most?
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.
Fourteen senators leave the state. 60,000 plus show up to demonstrate. And, the next thing you know there’s a national debate on the role of public employee unions in the state budget crisis occurring throughout the country. Those who support the unions see this as a not-so-veiled attempt to alter the essence of collective bargaining and limit the people’s right to protest. Union members see it as a fundamental challenge to their right to organize, and in some cases, a violation of their contract. The union leadership no doubt sees it as payback for supporting Democratic and pro-labor candidates. Those who support the various initiatives view this as a much needed step to reign in spending that is out of control. They view unions as – at worst - the enemy that have secured salary and benefits that are unavailable to them as private sector employees. “Why should government employees experience no pain when they are out of work,” they ask. There are probably even Republicans who view this as the perfect opportunity to weaken a political opponent. The problem with perceptions is that it only takes one act to prove you are right. As the saying goes, “All Indians walk in single file. I know that to be true because the one I saw was doing it that way.”