Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | October 9, 2013

Leadership Shutdown!

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What a wonderful country we live in!

I can personally attest to the fact, having immigrated from India and being blessed in all aspects of life, this is still the only country in the world that anyone from anywhere can come and work as hard as they want to and get as far as they can purely based on their merits. (Well maybe Singapore, but they definitely can’t handle the volume and I like chewing gums!). In fact it is one of the reason I am very proud to be an American!

So it is only natural that I feel a great sadness as I watch our government bungle through the second week of shutdown, because our so called leaders can’t seem to lead. Regardless of one’s political orientation one has to admit that for a country that is supposed to be the leader of the world, this is an embarrassing scenario. How can we ask others to follow when we can’t lead to keep our own house in order?

And as in any failure there are leadership lessons to learn – mostly what not to do in this case – nevertheless important lessons.

  • Title doesn’t make one a leader: Obvious but probably the most overlooked in many organizations including our government. In fact it is a dangerous proposition to give the title to someone incompetent because, as we are witnessing, it can shut down a whole country.
  • Be open to a different point of view: Somehow we have become a culture where even acknowledging an opposing view point is considered a weakness. A leader, while having a firm grip on their values, should not only be willing to understand a counter view but also have the ability to successfully negotiate and incorporate the best of both values.
  • Set clear consequences for chronic failures:  As millions of Americans suffer and as our leadership position in the world continues to erode, those responsible for this leadership crisis have lost seemingly little and continue on with no fear of losing their title. Mistakes happen and everyone should be allowed some, but leaders should learn and become better from those mistakes.
  • Stop talking, start doing: Another cliché! If we had a penny for every word from all our leaders in Washington, we won’t have a debt problem. In fact we could probably sponsor the world’s budget and still have a surplus!! It is important for a leader to articulate well but at a certain point, especially in a crisis, it is time to just shut up and lead with actions

As leaders let us take the pledge to understand those who are different than us, successfully incorporating the genius of the AND while not bowing to the tyranny of the OR and hold ourselves and others accountable for our actions and not be negligent in our responsibilities.

Here is hoping all leaders, especially those responsible for shutting down this wonderful country, are listening!

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