Last night one of my daughters asked me why the government was shut down, and I have to admit, I didn’t feel like I had a good answer. So I explained to her about the two parties and the house and congress, and how they could not agree. She wanted to know why the president could not make them agree, and again I did not have a good answer. I feel like all the points I will attempt to get on paper here have been said before, but this government shutdown nonsense has made me think, maybe our lack of leadership is more important than we realize.
It concerns me that a lack of leadership occurs so often in our society, our government, our sports team, and all the way down to our local church. I mean maybe the most beloved football coach in history was fired, for what Penn State said was a “Lack of leadership”. I really want to use bad language here to make sure my point gets across, but I won’t, however….Who is steering the ship?
It is abundantly clear: every organization depends upon competent, capable leadership for success. Any organization, whether for profit, military or educational, depends upon effective leadership to provide direction, goal attainment and mission accomplishment. Every organizational issue, every management decision that is made or postponed, is ultimately the product of leadership. Find an organization achieving excellence and you will find quality leadership. Find failure, and most likely you will discover leadership failure as well.
But despite the need for genuine leadership, throughout our society we are suffering from a leadership void. It seems that regardless of the direction we turn, we notice a lack of principled, passionate and dedicated leaders. Whether the arena is politics, business, education, religion or sports there all too often exists a leadership vacuum and it appears as if the true leader is more of a dream than a reality. All around us people are searching for leaders as we instinctively seek them out and recognize the necessity for quality leadership in all areas of life. The leadership landscape appears desolate and barren and it makes one wonder, “Where have all the leaders gone?”
Warren G. Bennis sounded the alarm several years ago when he declared that we suffer from “…a deepening leadership crisis in most of our institutions…. Unlike a plague or nuclear holocaust, the leadership crisis will probably not become the basis for a best-seller or a blockbuster movie, but in many ways it is the most urgent and dangerous of the threats we face today, if only because it is insufficiently recognized and little understood.”
Bennis went on: “It is the paradox of our times that precisely when the trust and credibility of leaders are at their lowest, when the beleaguered survivors in leadership positions feel unable to summon up the vestiges of power left to them, we most need people who can lead.”
I also found this quote as I looked around on the internet for ideas (author unknown) “The dearth of leadership is apparent throughout society. No matter where we turn, we see a severe lack of faith in the leadership of our schools, religious organizations and governments. To paraphrase a Business Week article, if Martians descended someplace in the United States and demanded that we take them to our leaders, we would have to think twice about where to take them.”
With such a rich heritage of leadership, where are the Lincolns, the Washingtons or the Churchills of the 21st century?
I am convinced that leadership is one of the most critical issues confronting us as we navigate the perilous waters of the third millennium. We need to revitalize organizations and institutions as we cast renewed visions and purge pet programs. New goals need to be set, priorities rearranged and traditions reevaluated as we encourage those around us to accomplish what is needed in an ever changing world. I also believe that we can meet the challenges presented today, if leaders are dedicated and equipped to meet those challenges by embracing unchanging leadership principles in a fresh, unselfish manner.
Leadership is always difficult and complicated. Yet few generations need to observe principled leadership more than ours. Our current need for honorable, ethical and effective servant leadership is the most critical issue confronting the United States. Only through modeling authentic servant leadership will contemporary leaders effectively and strategically shape the future. Servant leaders may voluntarily surrender a palace lifestyle complete with all its privileges and perks to serve and lead others. The ramifications of this kind of leadership (or lack of it) will impact our present generation and countless generations to come.
Stay the course.
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