Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Confidence To Lead Transparantly

Today I had a great conversation with a person I consider to possess great leadership skills, yet who ultimately finds herself often at work not in control of her own destiny. That is, she is an effective, organized, and hard working leader, who is very frustrated by those above her head with how they (fail to) lead the overall organization.

Her and I discuss plans, strategies, accountabilities, etc - and to my astonishment, she is working for a nationwide company without a) a discernible vision b) a plan that is communicated to every level of the organization let alone to it's leaders c) any sort of candid conversation or feedback amongst the 'company brass'. From what I get told- it's basically 1 visionary at the top who is surrounded by ass-kissing 'yes-men'. Has anyone every heard of a corporate structure like this? I'd be shocked to meet someone who could say 'no'.

The interesting thing is, sooner or later, amidst the pats on the back, lighting cigars, and congratulating each other for how good they are (or complaining about the subordinate working classes) these 'leaders' are going to lose real talent such as the girl in question here, and probably a lot more like her.

On the heels of all the 'OBAMANIA' that is going on- what we see Obama doing well is a) having a plan b) executing the plan (new website up day after inauguration) c) sharing the plan and d) being transparent with the current situation. No sugar-coating or dodging questions.

While George Bush used the 'war on terror' as a means to fund oil acquisition and arms development and war, the home front was busy trying to shop like the Hilton's on a Super 8 budget. Obama, on the other hand- is getting the celebrities noses dirty and ushering them, as well as the nation's wealthy - to ACT and he is being transparent hat this is the only way to bring about change. Change, by the way, being both what the nation (and world) needs, but also the theme of his campaign.

What Bush, and the leaders of today's company in question, lacked - well, to keep it short - was the competence to lead well, thus they inevitably lacked the confidence to lead with transparency.

A leader who is not confident tells half-truths and doesn't delegate as much for fear of people leaving the company or demanding more money.
A leader who is confident shares the hard facts no matter what the truth as a way of mobilizing more bodies to the cause.

And what does each type of leader leave in their wake?

George Bush - a nation in near ruin
People (we hope) like Barack Obama - results and a lasting legacy of inspiration and change.

People are smarter than 'leaders' like George Bush give them credit for- as such, the only way to lead is by good enough that you can be honest enough to affect enough change.

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