12 Oct Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
The clock just stopped at the two (2) minute warning, the score is tied, and the ball is on the 44-yard line, it’s the fourth quarter leading into a yet another economic recession with everything on the line. The two (2) teams should have been battling for decades with strong leadership, high-powered offensive tactics in order to capture market share, and defensive strategies focused on high quality service and customer retention. Yes, the game of football has many direct correlations to business. So, who wins???
Unfortunately, in the mid-sixties during the highly controversial Vietnam conflict politicians chose rather to stand up and tell it like it was, they chose to lie to the American public. This set the precedent for any politician going forward to lie anytime it was convenient for them to do so. These leaders and many that followed set a very poor leadership example for the entire American public which is the crux of our current problems. This paved the way for the removal of the paddle, the pledge of allegiance, and the Lord’s Prayer from schools which instinctively conveyed to children a blatant disregard and respect for authority.
Above and beyond contrary belief leaders are made not born. Someone once said that if you thrust an individual into a management position without any management/leadership training, when the first critical crisis occurs, they will respond by reverting back to how their household or school environment was run during their childhood. Proving that we are a product of our environment as well as that management and leadership skills are learned not inherent. A supervisor or manager reverting back to their childhood manner of raising may be good or bad, but can you afford the potential damage that could be instilled into the morale of your team? Trust takes a long time to cultivate and can be literally destroyed in seconds. It is like glass, once broken it will never be the same.
Tom Peters once said that 85% of what a front-line supervisor needs to know is how to utilize (manage) his/her resources of time, labor, supplies, etc… and how to effectively lead and inspire their team and only 15% of what they need is the knowledge of the respective business they are working within. These percentages change as an individual elevates up the ladder with the leadership knowledge becoming 90% and the actual business percentage dropping to 10% and so on as they elevate up the corporate ladder. And I’ve found this assumption perfectly accurate throughout my career. Everyday from Presidents, CEO’s, all the way down to front-line management are quashed not from their lack of skill in their respective industry, but for their lack of ability to lead, manage, and inspire their team to improve the bottom line whatever it may be up to and including professional athletic coaches. And what do most companies do? They go looking for someone with the business knowledge rather than leadership skills. Here in the U.S. there is a major shortage of leadership not only in the political arena but within every industry, at all levels of management.
So how do we overcome this huge challenge? You start by hiring individuals with integrity and teachable spirit. You find the ones who are hungry not only to learn your respective business but excited to learn how to lead and manage and drive improvement. I’ve found that manufacturers can hang technology on equipment from now until the cows come home, but it will never be more difficult than managing people. As the complexity of our diverse workforce continues to change it is imperative that leaders at all levels understand that learning to lead and manage is a never-ending process. You next must look in the mirror and ask yourself am I leading with unquestionable integrity? (Integrity is the strongest character attribute.) It is imperative that you lead by example. Who on my team is or is not leading with integrity? Leading with integrity builds respect, and respect morphs into devoted trust. Once you have trust you can accomplish almost anything. If you currently have leaders at any level who are not leading with integrity and think they know it all you must immediately have that nose to nose meeting in order to determine if they have the ability to change and develop a teachable spirit and fully understand the aforementioned concepts. If they lead you to believe that they can make that significant transformation (It is a significant personal and professional change.) you must closely monitor their actions to ensure they are not running underground and undermining your actions and are truly embracing the transformation. Steven Hawking stated, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” You as a leader must understand that this change will be difficult. One must understand that not making a decision or handling a problem is a problem within itself and the only thing that matters is what you do next.
So, who’s going to win, it is the business with the coach/leader that knows how to lead, manage, and inspire his/her respective team with integrity which will ensure respect and trust. Not the one who was hired for his/her knowledge of the X & O’s of the business but lacks the skill to inspire a team, as such he/she arbitrarily slashes services and seasoned employees in order to meet a short-term financial goal. With the principles to lead, manage, and inspire in place they’ll be able to punch it in for the business winning touchdown. Do you want a short-term or a long-term win?
Where have all the leaders gone? The answer is simple, we failed to develop them due to sociological, technological, and cultural changes within our society. However, all is not lost. There again, leaders are made, not born. If you lead by example with integrity and due diligence, providing on-going training you will develop them into leader while simultaneously grasping the necessary knowledge in your field of business. This will bolster their commitment to you and the organization while improving your key performance indicators. (KPI’s). Dedication and loyalty are not acquired with money or benefits, it can only be gained by trust, and respect.
Hopefully in the upcoming elections the citizens of America will have the fortitude to elect Governmental officials who will work in a bipartisan manner in order to enhance the strength of America rather than their own personal agendas setting the stage for the development of the future leaders of our nation.
“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.”
—Bob Marley (1945-1981) Singer, Songwriter, Musician