Posted by Orrin Woodward on June 3, 2013
Having led communities for over twenty years, writing several NY Times bestsellers on leadership in the process, I have thought on the subjects of leadership culture and political incompetence nonstop. Accordingly, I would like to share several fundamental principles on the subject. First, since leadership is the ability to inspire and influence teams toward specific targets, one must have a scoreboard to accurately gauge movement towards the goal. Second, leaders must inspect what they expect, holding the teams accountable to scoreboard results because the leader is being held accountable for whether his team produces the expected results. Third, since the American political structure has no scoreboard and no accountability, it consequently does not have a leadership culture capable of producing the results desired.
Please do not misunderstand this point. I am not saying that the political leadership in America is bad, what I am saying is it is non-existent. It doesn’t even meet the most basic of criteria to qualify as a leadership culture since a leadership culture has an inspect and expect component within it. In other words, leaders must be held accountable for the results their teams post on the scoreboard or they are not part of a leadership culture. In fact, the best leaders constantly work at creating the leadership culture because it’s the leadership culture that ultimately creates the desired results. Thus, government does not have a leadership culture because it doesn’t even have a scoreboard for leaders to inspect what they expect.
For instance, can anyone imagine an NBA basketball game without a scoreboard? Yes, the question is ludicrous to even ask, but government has run for millennia without a working scoreboard. In American sports, both the coaches and players know they will be evaluated on numerous personal and team statistics, most importantly whether they won or lost. Results matter in a leadership culture and coaches who do not win do not last. The scoreboard is omnipresent, allowing no one to hide their personal and team results. In contrast, the political field allows career politicians and bureaucrats to hide for a lifetime without ever seeing a scoreboard, let alone being held accountable to one. America’s political Titanic is taking on water, but instead of sealing the gaping holes, the bureaucrats continue to harass passengers and straighten decks chairs. Even if a LeaderShift occurs today, righting the ship will not be an easy task for the Five Laws of Decline are gaining momentum.
Nonetheless, leaders never point out a problems without suggesting potential fixes. Accordingly, here are a few ideas from Oliver DeMille and my recently released bestseller LeaderShift. First, demand that political leaders balance their budgets like every leader in America must do whether in his house, charity, or company. Each government leader must be given a budget (scoreboard) and be responsible to do his job using the funds available. If he cannot do so, then he must be held accountable. Every leader, outside of politics, learns to make cuts in non-essentials in order to balance his budget and stay in business. Leaders, in a word, lead people and manage numbers. Either the leader must cut back the services provided or explain to his constituents why he needs more tax dollars next year. I know, this is leadership 101 in free-enterprise, but it’s ignored everyday in American government.
Furthermore, while we are on the subject, eliminate completely the ability of government officials to print (fiat money) their way out of every financial problem. Remarkably, government is allowed to do what no other group of leaders is allowed to do without facing fraud charges and prison terms! Returning to the NBA example, can one imagine a team being down by twenty points that simply hands the referee twenty paper points to tie the game? Manipulations of this magnitude would not be tolerated by the NBA commissioner who, as a leader, inspects what he expects. Unfortunately, the American political system doesn’t have a leadership culture like American sports world, explaining why American sports are thriving while the American government is diving.
For that reason, the Benghazi, IRS, and AP wiretap scandals are not shocking to anyone who recognizes that government lacks a leadership culture. By avoiding any discomfort associated with scoreboards, inspect/expect, and accountability, politicians and bureaucrats can focus on more enjoyable activities, like targeting political opponents, harassing reporters, or furthering personal agendas to the detriment of America. If the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing while expecting a different result, then American government is insane. Rather than doing their assigned duties, they get to play leader without being sensible, responsible, or accountable. Imagine if, in a similar fashion, the NBA announced it would no longer keep score. The world-class leadership culture would quickly digress to political infighting and power plays, resulting in a political cesspool similar to the American political scene. Scoreboards are simply non-negotiable for anyone building a leadership culture.
In conclusion, America can change political leaders yearly, but it won’t alter the underlying cause of decline. In reality, the American government, regardless of which party is in power, has been on an orgy of deficit spending for the last 100 years and it won’t change until someone has the courage to demand a scoreboard. The scoreboard naturally leads to an inspect what we expect step and America will start on its road to recovery. It’s time to stop pointing fingers at opposing parties and time to start leading where one is at. How is one’s personal household scoreboard? What about the company or business one represents? Perhaps, the LeaderShift begins the moment we start holding ourselves accountable to the same high-standards we expect from our favorite sport teams. America’s future-generations pray we answer the questions wisely.