The Problem With Leadership: Are The Leaders

The problem with leadership in all stripes is not that there isn’t any. It’s that most lead others down ruinous paths that they themselves wouldn’t dare to venture. Or worse – don’t care what happens to the ones they send down these perilous paths.

Just imagine there were actual people who thought their confiscatory actions as to relieve people of their money from their bank accounts in the middle of the night. Then to close the banks under some guise as a “holiday” was a good idea. As we just witnessed happen in Cyprus. And, this would have no repercussions except that the dictate would have to be followed because, well – they thought of it, so it must be fair and right. Right?

As crazy as this sounds: The people who came up with this nifty idea probably thought they were brilliant. The reason why is that most leaders (especially in the political class) sit around big desks, in closed rooms, and believe they are exempt from anything they decide. i.e., “We have no money – so confiscate theirs. Quick before the champagne goes flat!”

Same type of thinking happens in business at boards everywhere: “We need to reduce the workforce by 35% to get expenses in line. And make it quick. I have to pick out the art work for our new corporate suites!”

To lead effectively you don’t need to be buddy buddy with everyone on the staff, or a first name basis with every constituent. However, what you do need to know is that there are real people who will have real circumstances to deal with caused by your actions as a leader. Most leaders fail at this with near disgusting regularity.

I remember a meeting where we were discussing a new payroll system being implemented. In the meeting that was made up of top management the CFO said there would be an issue as the system was implemented with the withholding taxes, and could fluctuate for some reason. (I just don’t remember why but it was valid I remember that) This would result in some employees possibly having an extra $10 or $20 extra with held till the system caught up then it would be refunded.

My colleague at the time said: “We should make available any money to personnel that might be needed by that error in withholding so people could borrow it till the bug was fixed.” The CFO responded quite smugly. “We’re only talking $10 or $20 dollars here.” My colleague responded, “That’s not a lot of money to you, but to some families downstairs $10 or $20 dollars throws their budgets into turmoil.” I never forgot it and he was absolutely correct in his thinking, as well as his correctly placed empathy.

Leadership is just that – to lead. Far too many forget that. They also forget the people they are leading implicitly trust the rules being made, or the circumstances to be burdened by everyone includes the leader also.

It’s not about “Go that way!” True Leaders shout: “Here!…Follow me!”

© 2013 Mark St.Cyr