Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | September 13, 2013

Never Forget!


This is risky! But nothing good ever came out of being comfortable, so here it goes!

Yesterday we honored those 3000 fallen in that dastardly terrorist attack on our soil 12 years ago and thousands more who lost their lives fighting for the freedom we enjoy and sometimes take for granted. And the prevailing feeling is one of sadness, but also that of pride to know that we as a nation have overcome so much while fighting an enemy that is hell bent on taking away everything we hold sacred.

My thoughts turned to, naturally, the leadership lessons from that incident on that fateful day. What can we learn from that incident which allowed the bad guys to prevail, even if it was just for that one day, and the good guys to fail? How can we translate that to leadership qualities that can help us in everyday situations so that the greater good can overcome the obstacles placed in the way by the persistent bad?

The following are my leadership lesson takeaways from that day

  • Bad guys have leadership too. Subconsciously leadership is always associated with doing good. Being brave. And get lulled into thinking that the bad guys are just a bunch of idiots with no skills. Obviously that was not the case. This organization not only had leadership with a specific vision and a mission (i.e., destroying our way of life), they were also well organized.
  • Disruptive ideas disrupt without discriminating between good and bad. For the rest of my life I will remember the moments of that day when the planes hit those building. It was heartbreaking. The leadership of the good guys got complacent and did not stay ahead of this terrorist organization and their ability to come up with crazy ideas to accomplish their cause. By definition that is how disruption happens. And we are left with heavy hearts because of that failure.
  • Lack of organizational robustness leads to tragedy. By all accounts the good guys were underfunded, undermanned and not working together to prevent this tragedy. There was chaotic leadership, lack of information and cooperation between leaders, inability to make decisions due to bureaucracy and downright incompetence in making decisions (probably sounds familiar to lot of those corporations today that are in a free fall!).¬† And by contrast the bad guys were well funded, resourced and organized, with single minded mission to succeed.
  • Relentless Persistence, Patience and Vigilance are needed for the good to beat the bad. The leadership record of the good guys over a period of time is pretty good. In fact throughout history the good have always prevailed. But all that the bad needs to succeed is a moment of complacency or pockets of leadership ineptitude.

So in the spirit of never forgetting, as leaders (the good ones!) regardless of the level or the type of organizational unit (for-profit, government, family, non-profit), it is imperative that we learn from that day. We have to be relentlessly vigilant, constantly be crazier in coming up with creative ideas to make things better and provide/utilize all the resources available to achieve the goals and change the world that we touch.

Because failing to do so, even for a moment, means heartbreak and everlasting tragedy! NEVER FORGET!


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