The lack of confidence in the institutions that define our collective culture is threatening the civility, economic prosperity, and standing of the United States as a world leader. Let’s start with the government. The President’s approval rating is underwater and continuing to sink. A recent Gallup poll found that only [...]
The 1971 Oscar in the Short Film, Cartoon category went to a piece titled “Is It Always Right To Be Right.” It was directed by Lee Mishkin, narrated by Orson Welles, and written by Warren Schmidt. The opening words of the film are: There once was a land where people were always right. They knew they were right and they were proud of it. It was a land where people stated with confidence, "I am right and you are wrong." These were words of conviction, courage, strength, and moral certainty. In this fictional land, any attempt at cooperation and understanding were viewed as cowardice and weakness. Everyone was so convinced of their rightness that no one dared to utter words such as, “You may be right” or “I may be wrong.”
The government we want is nimble, flexible, and responsive. The government we experience, in many cases, is slow, cumbersome, and totally unresponsive. Let’s put this another way: We want our government to operate like our favorite business. We believe, in contrast, that our government is the poster child for lumbering bureaucratic inefficiency and employees who are out of touch with the realities of the marketplace. Twenty plus years of working with private and public sector organizations has taught me that the truth is actually somewhere between the two extremes.
There has to be something we can learn from Washington’s failure to address the debt limit, right? There are three very important lessons about leading change you can take from the chaos over approving the federal budget and raising the debt ceiling.
There are several guarantees in the campaign for President of the United States: • The other side – regardless of the side you are on – will be portrayed by their opponents as completely out of touch with the “average” American • Every candidate will make promises that can only be kept with the cooperation of Congress, and every candidate will pledge to work with their opponents across the isle • Personal attacks will be plentiful and usually cloaked in an argument about policy implications • The choice between candidates will always be framed as two distinct visions that will determine the destiny and fate of the country • Integrity – or specifically the lack of it – will be called into question by the candidates, their surrogates, and the media pundits There is little any of us can do to change the first four items on this list. They are going to happen regardless of any efforts to restore civility and common sense to the campaign.
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 U.S. economy is in a self-fulfilling death spiral propelled by mistrust. There is a good chance that the same thing can be said of your industry, your employer, and your career. Growth requires investment, and that requires confidence. You can’t cut your way to sustainable growth. When trust is absent, people naturally protect their immediate self-interest. This will occur even if it leads to their long-term individual and collective undoing.
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.