A piece from Capstone’s CEO, John C. Rogers, on the failure of leadership in Washington, and how to fix it. Follow him on LinkedIn.
A friend of mine, Mike Myatt, recently wrote an article for Forbes on how the lack of Leadership is more than a little responsible for the shutdown and where we find ourselves today. I couldn’t agree with him more. Much of our current mess is indeed due to a lack of leadership, on both sides of the aisle. As Mike eloquently states, “Our world is suffering greatly at the hands of people who have placed their desire to be right above the desire to achieve the right outcome. They confuse their need for an ego boost, their quest for power, and their thirst for greed with leadership. Many of the symptoms of poor leadership we’re seeing today may seemingly resolve themselves in the near term, but the greater problem won’t go away on its own.”
I keep asking myself, how did we get here? A large part of the answer lies in trust. We no longer trust our elected leaders. A Gallup poll conducted in September of this year found that the American people’s trust in the federal government to handle domestic and international problems and in the three branches of government are all at or near historic lows and that was BEFORE the Congressional shutdown and the debacle over the debt ceiling.
To me, leadership and trust go hand in hand. It’s awfully hard to lead when people don’t trust you. No doubt some of this goes to different policy makers and parties having honest differences of opinion. But spin is just that, blinders blind and ignorance may be bliss but it’s not an excuse. So when Mike says that part of this is the thirst for greed in leadership – he’s right. I’ve seen and see it around numerous Washington corners in conversations with otherwise thoughtful and rational senior elected officials. As another really smart friend of mine recently said, “event descriptions do not equal explanations.” Our elected officials tend to focus on explanations rather than objective descriptions of events.
“The vote failed to pass the Bill,” is an event description. “The vote failed to pass the Bill because the other guy is an ideologue who hasn’t a clue how we should run the government,” is the explanation. Adding to this is the earlier point that one can have honest disagreements in looking at the same thing. After all, when I see blue, others may see royal or navy. We are our own unique observers. But we’ve heard politicians on both sides make declarative statements as fact when indeed they are describing an explanation, not an event.
“Washington is broke because of all the lobbyists.”
“It’s a slam dunk (that Iraq has Weapons of Mass destruction).”
“You’re doing a great job, Brownie.”
“It would bring stability to the world markets if we don’t raise the debt ceiling.”
All spoken as fact, none of it accurate, some of it crazy, none of it true.
Fueling this is the media onslaught that we all face with the 24/7 news cycle. There’s always the hunt for a story, to say nothing about social media. Think about how the iPhone and YouTube have changed politics. One can say that the iPhone significantly contributed to Romney’s loss (“the 47%”). Regardless, the fact remains that we, as a society, are bombarded with messages. The consequence is Americans don’t know who or what to believe anymore and they don’t trust anyone because they’ve been spun by virtually everyone whether it be their party or the other one.
Yes, there are big institutional issues that need to be tackled (campaign finance reform – the elimination of gerrymandered districts) and yes there are vast differences of opinion in what direction the country should go, but we’ve got to get the leadership right. And there’s no way to do that unless we trust them, and there’s no way to do that until people understand when they are being spun. Only when that happens will we have a chance at changing the very broken pattern that we are all part of with politics today in the USA.
The views in this blog post represent the viewpoints of individual team members, not Capstone National Partners as a whole.