Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TLR: Reconsidering Leadership

America is in an economic crisis because of the decades long American Leadership Crisis. In mapping out how the Texas Leadership Revolution will lead us out of the American Leadership Crisis, we need to consider some weaknesses in American leadership.

When President George W. Bush recommended one of his lawyers, Harriet Miers, to fill a Supreme Court opening, there was such an outcry over lack of appropriate experience for his candidate that he had to withdraw that candidate. He did not go to Washington with a strong, well rounded team.

When President Barack Obama tried to nominate a Commerce Secretary, he struck out with his first two candidates. He did not go to Washington with a strong, well rounded team.

Too many of our leaders simply do not know enough people who are smart and capable. Our politicians know mostly other politicians and people with money. This lack of knowledge is a weakness in our political leadership class. Moreover, we still cling to the myth of the leader as hero. We do not recognize the dependence modern leaders have upon the technical skills of professionals to formulate and execute policies.

Leadership teams are needed to oversee complex endeavors. Organizing, developing, and working within a leadership team environment is a process American corporations are struggling to master. Political leadership still relies on the antiquated myth of the heroic leader who makes all the decisions as though he were an absolute ruler ordained with special powers.

This is the first leadership issue: the leadership team approach is necessary for the complexities of today's problems, but it is poorly understood while the heroic leader is a lingering myth from the past that continues to fail us.

An unnecessary byproduct of our secular society is the loss of faith in higher truths. Even if someone does not believe in God, a belief in a higher order, a sense that there is something greater than oneself, a sense of a natural law that needs to be understood and followed, helps to suppress hubris and steadies the mind in making decisions. There is an old saying, "Off by an inch at the start, off by a mile at the end." Not believing in a higher truth is being off by at least an inch. This lack of a moral compass eventually leads our leaders to be off by miles.

With no moral compass, some believe in rational self-interest. But that has failed with our banks. Here is famous quote from Alan Greenspan: "Those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity, myself especially, are in a state of shock and disbelief." If you have heard Thrasymachus in Plato's Republic, you know that rational self-interest boils down to "steal all you can carry."

This is the second leadership issue: leaders without a belief in a higher truth lose their bearing and run the ship of state into the rocks.

As we move forward through this new millennium, we must find ways to work past these two problems that hinder us in solving the American Leadership Crisis:
1.) The leadership team approach is necessary for the complexities of today's problems, but it is poorly understood while the heroic leader is a lingering myth from the past that continues to fail us.

2.) Leaders without a belief in a higher truth lose their bearing and run the ship of state into the rocks.

There are a number of ways to solve these problems, but we must first recognize these problems before we can solve them.

Robert Canright

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