Fixing The Crisis In Leadership

April 28, 2014 Vince Molinaro

US Government Shutdown

Last week, Mike Myatt posted a simply terrific article on Forbes.com entitled A Crisis of Leadership – What’s Next?

He believes that a lack of leadership being shown by American politicians is actually a more systemic problem that is pervading every level of society. There is a crisis of leadership all over the world.

I agree with Mike. I see the same issues he sees. We have high expectations for our leaders, whether in politics, Corporate America, or in our communities. But we’re often underwhelmed and, at times, even disillusioned by what we see or more accurately what we don’t see from them.

It is clear from the government shutdown that those leaders have lost sight of their leadership obligations. As Mike says, their desire to be right has overshadowed the desire to achieve the right outcome. However, even now that a deal has been reached and that government will reopen, the reality is that the leadership crisis remains.

So how do we fix it? To me it starts with a core idea I explore in my new book, The Leadership Contract. We have too many individuals who have taken on leadership roles without truly understanding what it means to be a leader in today’s world.

When you take on a leadership role (whether in an organization or in politics) you are essentially entering a contract – a leadership contract. It has actually existed for a while, but most leaders still don’t understand its terms and conditions, let alone its fine print.

The essence of the leadership contract begins with a deeply personal commitment you make to be the best leader you can possibly be. Because when you are in a leadership role, a lot is expected of you.

Your organization needs you to be at your best. Your employees, customers, shareholders, and stakeholders need you to be at your best. The problem we face is that many leaders lose sight of this. Instead they assume leadership roles primarily for personal reasons – to feed their ego, the status of a new title or position, to make more money. There is nothing wrong with these reasons, but when they are the only ones then leadership can go bad quickly.

So the fix begins when each one of us makes the conscious decision to become a great leader. Not because of what’s in it for us, but rather the value we must bring to everyone around us.

To me, this starts with being absolutely clear on your obligations as a leader. Start by having the courage to tackle the hard work of leadership. Decide to be the leader that everyone else wants to emulate.

It’s time that we recommit to holding ourselves to a higher standard of leadership behavior. That is the essence of the leadership contract. It’s the deeply personal commitment you make to be a great leader—the leader that you must become for yourself, your organization, and for all of us. Until we each make that personal commitment as leaders, our world and organizations will face a crisis of leadership.

Follow me @VinceMolinaro

About the Author

Vince Molinaro

Vince Molinaro is the Global Managing Director of Strategic Solutions at Lee Hecht Harrison. He is also the author of The Leadership Contract – a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. Vince has spent more than 20 years as an adviser to boards and senior executives looking to improve leadership in their organizations.

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