"Why does it feel like so few leaders are capable of inspiring their people to meet the challenges of our day? There are many explanations for this global leadership deficit, but I’d focus on two: one generational, one technological.
Let’s start with the technological. . . .
The wiring of the world through social media and Web-enabled cellphones is changing the nature of conversations between leaders and the led everywhere. We’re going from largely one-way conversations — top-down — to overwhelmingly two-way conversations — bottom-up and top-down. This has many upsides: more participation, more innovation and more transparency. But can there be such a thing as too much participation — leaders listening to so many voices all the time and tracking the trends that they become prisoners of them? . . .
Indeed, I heard a new word in London last week: “Popularism.”. . .
Read the polls, track the blogs, tally the Twitter feeds and Facebook postings and go precisely where the people are, not where you think they need to go. If everyone is “following,” who is leading? . . .
As for the generational shift, we’ve gone from a Greatest Generation that believed in save and invest for the future to a Baby Boomer generation that believed in borrow and spend for today. . . .
When you have technologies that promote quick short-term responses and judgments, and when you have a generation that has grown used to short-term gratification — but you have problems whose solutions require long, hard journeys, like today’s global credit crisis or jobs shortage . . . — you have a real mismatch and leadership challenge.
Virtually all leaders today have to ask their people to share burdens, not just benefits, and to both study harder and work smarter just to keep up. That requires extraordinary leadership that has to start with telling people the truth.
(T)he book “How” argue(s) that “nothing inspires people more than the truth.” Most leaders think that telling people the truth makes that leader vulnerable — either to the public or their opponents. They are wrong.
“The most important part of telling the truth is that it actually binds you to people,” explains Seidman (book's author), “because when you trust people with the truth, they trust you back.” Obfuscation from leaders just gives citizens another problem — more haze — to sort through. “Trusting people with the truth is like giving them a solid floor,” adds Seidman. “It compels action. When you are anchored in shared truth, you start to solve problems together. It’s the beginning of coming up with a better path.”
That is not what we’re seeing from leaders in America, the Arab world or Europe today. You’d think one of them, just one, would seize the opportunity to enlist their people in the truth: about where they are, what they are capable of, what plan they need to get there and what they each need to contribute to get on that better path. Whichever leader does that will have real “followers” and “friends” — not virtual ones."
Getting to a better reality requires that we begin with a shared view of our current reality. That means we start our journey to a better tomorrow by telling the truth about what IS and not what SHOULD BE. And definitely not by distorting what others say. Just telling it like it really IS is the only way to create a better tomorrow.
Today, there's a vacuum of truth telling leadership, especially in politics. We have to get rid of the poll driven popularity contest winners seeking power. It won't be easy, but it must be done.
But here's the problem for We the People. People don't vote for truth tellers. They choose the "make me feel good" approach. And that sugar high won't last. It never does.
We are in a deep financial hole as a nation, as is the rest of the world. And we won't solve our many problems without dealing with the current reality. Want a few examples?
ObamaCare either will be upheld or struck down in whole or in part by the Supreme Court this week.
But whatever the Court's decision, our health care costs will still be unaffordable and out-of-control. And we'll still be an aging society. And Medicare spending will remain unacceptably high and unaffected by ObamaCare's future. But there's more.
Popular and expensive provisions of the Affordable Care Act are pre-existing conditions and allowing young people to remain on their parents' plan until age 26. Unpopular is the individual mandate (perhaps the most likely provision to be ruled unconstitutional).
Thus, polls consistently indicate that We the People favor the most expensive outcome. Strike down the individual mandate and maintain the pre-existing conditions and age 26 provisions. Make health care more popular and unaffordable at the same time, in other words. And that's just an example.
We also like Social Security, union "security," entitlements that we don't pay for fully, low rates for student loans, easy credit to buy big houses, no money down mortgages, cheap gasoline combined with a ban on oil drilling and pipelines, extended unemployment benefits, higher wages, pension plans instead of 401(k)s, generous nursing home subsidies and lots of other "good stuff."
But we don't like to pay for all that "good stuff" by increasing our taxes or accepting lower wages to be competitive globally. Still, we don't like high unemployment. Or paying more for mail delivery.
The truth is we can't continue to give ourselves all the good stuff without paying for it.
There's an old expression that if you're not a liberal at age 20, you don't have a heart. And if you're not a conservative by age 30, you don't have a head.
We the People have both a heart and head.
We need to start using both of them at the same time and all the time.
And insist that our so-called political leaders start sharing the truth, so that together we can make the hard but necessary choices to get our wonderful nation back on its rightful track.
American Exceptionalism must survive. And acting together We the People will make it happen.