Lately, I have been thinking about what is going on in Washington D.C. and the utter lack of leadership, humility and courage we have on display from our so-called "leaders" in government. From the President, to Congress, to Mayors and Governors, we are seeing a total lack of clear headed thinking and just plain old leadership on display daily.
Harry Truman once said "The Buck Stops Here."
But for our government managers (I choose to call them managers because a lot of them don't deserve to be called leaders) always pass the buck. It is never their fault. It is someone else's fault. Finger pointing is at a premium in government and real solutions are never fully explored or addressed. Politics and winning for your particular party or ideology is the rule of the day.
Now, I am not naive enough to be surprised about all of this.
is just that at my advanced age of 67, I am more than a little frustrated at the direction of our country and that is due directly to lack of leadership - by both major parties. Rather than do what is right for all the people, they cater to their donors, constituents and ideological base. No room for compromise, real debate or dialogue. Just demonize the other side and be like Nero, fiddling away as Rome burns down. Some examples:
Let's start at the top. President Biden. Whether you voted for him or not is immaterial. From a pure leadership perspective, he has failed. We are more divided as a country now than when he came in. He demagogues his political opponents rather than trying to establish common ground. More than anyone else in this country, he has the ability to try and bring people together of all political persuasions, to tackle the problems that face us as a country. But instead, there is no listening. No compromise. And, an utter lack of even admitting the problems we have. We have a border crisis of epic proportions. It has now spilled to the streets of NY, Chicago and elsewhere besides the border states. But instead of addressing the problem, the President doesn't even admit there IS a problem. In business, if you have a problem that is going to affect your P&Ls, you cannot just say that everything is hunky dory. You have to make tough business decisions e.g. reductions in force, change of strategy, reduce or realign budgets etc. But if you cannot even acknowledge there even is a problem, how do you solve it. That is just one example. But the main point here is that as a leader, you set the tone for your organization. Also, you cannot keep blaming the other side for the countries ills. YOU are the one in charge. If the buck truly stops with you then own it. We are all fallible. We all make mistakes. God knows I have made plenty of them in my leadership journey. But it is arrogance when you can't admit when you were wrong or maybe you could have done things a better way.
You, as a leader, can make it better and bring people together, or you can make it divisive, partisan and a bad place to work. Biden has failed in this regard.
The Republicans. What can I say. I lean conservative as many of you know. But man, seeing the presidential debate the other night, I had to shake my head. Lack of humility was on display big time that night. Everyone had their talking points, were shouting over each other and at the end of the day, I, as a voter, came away with nothing. Tell us what you are realistically going to do if you became President. You can't say things like "I will reduce the size of government by 75%" and have any credibility. Tell us how you are going to try and get both parties to actually govern. Tell us how you are going to try and realistically reduce our deficit. Give us a reason to believe that you are putting our citizens first vs those of other countries that we spend billions on without any real accountability - think Ukraine. But instead, you get a clown show with big egos in full display. Disappointing.
Trump. Whether you like his policies or not, he is not a leader. Leaders show humility, admit failures, don't denigrate other people, bring people together etc. Trump has none of these qualities. He, like Biden, can never admit a mistake. They are the poster boys for how not to be when you are in a leadership position.
Congress. What can I say? It's like watching a bunch of kids arguing all the time. One party gets in power, then it's payback time. The other party gets in power, it's payback time. Hearings, committees on J the other side, name calling and pure vitriol. Money is spent with huge amounts of waste and pet projects, while the so called leaders of the House and Senate always drone on and on about "the people." They don't care about the people. They care about power and staying in power. What's more, they actually hate each other. Those of you what know me know that I often talk about a time when back in the day, leaders like House Speaker Tip O'Neil and President Reagan, would battle it out in public, and then over drinks either on Capitol Hill or at the White House, discuss issues like gentlemen and come to a common solution. And, they liked each other. Back then, you could fight hard for your cause on floors of Congress, and still have drinks and dinner with your political opposites at night. Not anymore. Dogma, intolerance and pure hatred for the other side rules the day. Lack of leadership, humility and focusing on us, the people.
Mayors and Governors - Same thing. Entrenched in ideology and pandering to their sides while ignoring real issues such as crime, homelessness, immigration, inflation etc. It is like what I call "putting a bandage on a tumor." It looks like you are doing something but you are not dealing with the root cause of the problem. Short term fixes but no long term solutions. I heard this morning that NYC is recommending that all citizens carry Narcan in case they run into someone who is overdosing! Now, mind you, these are adult so called leaders, who are recommending this including the Health Commissioner of the city. Which means the Mayor and City Council are behind this. Again, let's dodge the main issue of tackling this problem with say, I don't know, maybe stopping the flow of Fentanyl at the border perhaps and putting the dealers in jail? I know that is a radical idea but it beats the bandage on a tumor approach.
I could go on and on but you get my drift. Leadership, true leadership is sorely lacking at all levels of government. I don't believe the people I mentioned are evil or bad people. But they are not leaders. Decades of service in politics doesn't necessarily translate to becoming a leader. Quite the opposite.
It can breed what we are seeing now. Feckless and dishonest people in the guise of leaders. People who talk about caring for "the people" but who only care about holding on to power and satisfying their base. People who won't consider arguments on the other side even if they make sense and might work. I don't know what the remedy for this is but for sure, what we have isn't working. Perhaps we do indeed need a generational change. But keeping the same players in charge who got us in this mess is a recipe for continued dysfunction in our country.
We need more Colin Powell's in government and less Bidens and Trumps. Humility and leadership go hand-in-hand. Hopefully we will see these traits again displayed by those in charge.
Let me know what you think! Till next time!
PS - Don't forget to check out the Ronin Leadership Podcast on YouTube and Subscribe/Like/Share it! #grateful