This history of the United States Government is full of leadership lessons. Many great moments, and many, what-not-to-do moments. We’re in the midst of one of those what-not-to-do moments right now. From sequestration to the current government shutdown it’s no wonder the United States Congress is facing a massive amount of criticism from the American people. We’re supposed to view our leaders as, well, leaders. The beautiful thing about a democracy is that we get to choose (well, at least cast a vote for) who represents us in making decisions that affect the population. Sure, not everyone agrees on the same issues, or sees things from the same viewpoint, but in a democracy that’s ok. Most democratic political systems allow, and even support and expect, that elected officials share dialogue prior to decision making. So what happens when these people that have been chosen to represent our interests start acting like a bunch of middle schoolers playing tug-o-war? When they begin to place their own interests above the interests of those they lead, when they forget that they were elected to represent us – “we the people” – and not their own self serving interests. Do they get a time out? Do they grounded?
Earn your leadership every day. –Michael Jordan
That’s our current situation here in the United States. A bunch of power hungry adults acting like children, setting a poor example of leadership, operating as a dysfunctional team, and lowering performance and morale of the entire organization – our country! This power struggle, this lunchroom fight, this playground bullying, it’s all gotten out of control. Hundreds of thousands of workers have been on unpaid leave for over a week now, thanks to the egos of a bunch of men and women, who they elected to serve their interests. The inability to have open and honest dialogue, show mutual respect for one another’s viewpoints and ideas, and compromise on a solution for the greater good can have lasting negative impacts on the sustainability of the organization they lead – the United States. The government shutdown is on day eleven, and while perhaps Congress is coming slightly closer to reaching an agreement of sorts (or maybe that’s wishful thinking), this whole ordeal is leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of most Americans. We the people – are not happy! We elect our leaders based on how their values align to our own, sure, but we also elect our leaders to LEAD. That’s not happening. No doubt at some point they’ve learned how to lead, but currently, any leadership skills they might have are being overshadowed by ego and stubbornness. And this abuse of personalized power has led to a crisis. The lack of leadership isn’t just affecting them; it’s costing Americans jobs and the government the revenue they so desperately need. And it’s also damaging our “brand” as a nation. If leaders in the business world acted this way, employees would cease to perform, customers would walk away, profits would decline, and the so called leaders would be fired!
Congress may be providing us with some lessons for what not to do; But we can learn something from the situation regarding leading successfully in times of crises:
There are three essentials to leadership: humility, clarity and courage. – Fuchan Yuan
Government workers, employees, are not the only ones impacted by the shutdown; Americans around the country are facing challenges, and some might face dire consequences should things not be resolved soon. Perhaps it’s time for our political leaders to take a step back and focus on the greater good. It remains to be seen how the shutdown will be resolved or what the impacts will be, but regardless, businesses throughout America can head some lessons from Congress handling – or lack thereof – per the current situation. Want to make sure you’re being the best leader you can? Check out this checklist: How to be a Great Leader…and feel free to send a copy along to your elected officials! *Not intended for political debate. About Scott Span, MSOD: is CEO & Lead Consultant of Tolero Solutions - an Organizational Improvement & Strategy firm. He helps clients in facilitating sustainable growth by connecting and maximizing people –> performance –> profit™, creating organizations that are more responsive, productive and profitable. Email | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Blog | Facebook ______________________________________________________________ *All Rights Reserved. Reproduction, publication, and all other use of any and all of this content is prohibited without authorized consent of Tolero Solutions and the author.