Debates and Leadership

I am a big nerd, meaning I’m excited about the first round of Presidential debates.  Well, I’m excited about debate season, but especially the first one, which is almost upon us.  I know that I won’t get straight answers to most questions, and the time will be used to spew part rhetoric for evening new sound bytes.  I also know that there won’t likely be any groundbreaking ideas or pronouncements made.  Stay the Course, 1000 Points of Light, No New Taxes…Come to think of it, we haven’t had a great debate quote since Poppy Bush.  OK, maybe Admiral Stockdale, but still, it’s been a while.

I’m mostly excited, though, because we are knee deep in election season, and I am always fascinated with the peaceful transition of power that is a hallmark of our society.  A few politicians will be unemployed in a matter of months, and some will be back for another go. But in the end, we will more forward and do it again soon.  And for more than 200 years,that’s been how we roll.

In contrast, we often see leadership decisions in the business world made in secrecy.  A small group gets to talk to the candidates, ask some standard questions, and then take their best guess as to who will be a better fit in the roll.  Ever see two CFO candidates stand up at a town hall meeting to debate the right debt ratios for an organization?  Maybe two potential CEOs taking their view of international expansion to the company picnic for a rousing discussion?  Maybe two first time supervisors arguing on the shop floor for that they would be the best choice to oversee the new shipping bays.  I’ve never seen it, but it sounds like an interesting approach.

We don’t often get the luxury of choosing our leaders.  And, sadly, once they are chosen the rank and file put their heads back down and assume nothing will change.  But that doesn’t have to be the case.  New leaders, by and large, are looking for those who will support them.  That means a great opportunity is there to get to know them and hear their platform, even without a campaign.

Tired of working for the man with no idea what they are planning?  Go ask.  Leaders need followers.  Get involved, ask questions, and, at the right moment, share your thoughts.  Make it an interactive relationship.  Put in the effort on your part to be an influencer.

Not bad advice for the election, either.


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