Try to answer this question posed in a recent business conversation:
Who stands out domestically as a leader with great integrity?
The question was met with…silence.
Mark Fenner, president of Rise Performance Group, summed up the concerns of many when he said, “We believe there’s a dearth of leadership in our country.”
And Rise partner Bob Kaplitz added: “Our research shows the excitement a few years ago over ‘hope and change’ has ended in disappointment and skepticism about anybody making any promises – especially during campaign season.”
At every level – Federal government, state governments, schools, businesses, sports, churches, families, and on a personal level – there is a societal breakdown. The American dream that once involved raising the bar, tackling the tough challenges, and serving others has been replaced by a tear-down mentality. If someone is ahead of you, pull them down. If someone has a higher income than you, tax them more. If someone is leading, pull them back.
One thing is certain. Where there is a dearth of authentic leadership, something will fill the void. This was illustrated recently in the NCAA unionization issue. If the leaders had dealt with the issues at the onset, there would be no need to consider unionization. Where leaders don’t make decisions or stand for principles, the government will step in to make the decisions and set the precedents for them. In the end, when leaders don’t fulfill their roles, they begin to forfeit their leadership.
Jim Rohn said it well: “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
Building is hard work. Creating businesses, increasing productivity, and generating income are definite challenges. Being a leader is demanding work. It demands that you be more and do more than the average. And it means you have to fight against the pull to average – and below – that is fast becoming the hallmark of our society.
We encourage our fellow leaders to follow the advice of President John F. Kennedy:
But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
DO the hard things.
What could we accomplish in the next decade if every leader just made that one decision?