I just finished reading an article written by Thomas Friedman called Are We Home Alone?. The article, an Op-Ed in the New York Times, was about the lack of Inspirational leadership in our government and corporations. Friedman’s comments were well put and timely. I want to expound just a bit on his basic premise that Inspirational Leadership is the answer to our country’s woes at the moment.
Friedman quoted Dov Seidman who said, “Laws tell you what you can do. Values inspire in you what you should do.” He then goes on to say that it is a leaders job to instill in us these values. I couldn’t agree more. However… Houston, we have a problem.
Exactly what “values” are we talking about here? As a country, we have lost a common sense of values that is the underlying fabric of our society. I don’t want to get into an argument over what these values are, that clouds the issue. The significant thing to remember is that we, and more importantly, our leaders, have lost sight of what is right and wrong. An inspirational leader, will only solve our problems if those in Congress and our Corporate CEO’s are willing to follow a common set of values. Clearly… they are not.
Barak Obama was elected President because the majority of Americans want change. We are sick and tired of business as usual. It is emotionally exhausting to pick up the Wall Street Journal everyday, only to find another leader in Congress or Corporate America looking out for their own interests, at the expense of the rest of us. Is our common value system based on the premise, look out for numero uno?!
We need more than Inspirational leadership. A leader with Courage to bring about change is what we need! I watched the AIG incident with great interest? Why? Because it was a defining moment for our country, and we blew it. This is a collective we. Barak Obama, Congress, AIG CEO Edward Liddy, AIG Board of Directors and the AIG employees. What happened at AIG (not to mention Merril Lynch and all the other poor leadership spectacles over the past 5-10 years) is a telling tale of the future to come.
What should have been done? Edward Liddy should have been asked to resign. The bonuses should have been rescinded. The Board replaced. I’ve heard the arguments as to why the payments had to be made. Yeah. Right. Barak and Congress should have challenged them. Take them to court. Make them pay. Even if we lose, it sends a clear signal that behavior like this will not be tolerated. What really happened? We blinked. This behavior will continue for the foreseeable future, with only the Public paying the price.
All the best!
All the time!