Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Where are our Leaders?

by Steven Worth

When leaders have so much vested in just keeping their jobs, are they able, in fact, to lead? When stakeholders realize that the one they have chosen to lead them is so desperately trying to hold onto their job, are they able entirely to trust that he or she can or will perform their leadership function with complete integrity?

How many leaders spend more time and effort schmoozing their board chairs than advancing their organization’s mission? How many would rather spend their association’s funds on five star accommodations for their board members rather than new strategic initiatives based on solid market research?

Rather than envy, the sight of CEOs enjoying high six or seven figure salaries, lavish living accommodations, and first class transportation should inspire head shaking pity instead. One can be sure that these poor souls in their gilded cages will do whatever it takes….but to what end? Do their visions exceed their own persons? More often than not their numbers of years in office are their only legacy. Many leaders’ styles remind us of Shelly’s poem…

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Give us leaders instead who inspire others to do more than they thought they could—whose time in office is measured by a world that is better for their efforts, and whose tenure is marked more by its quality than its length. Such leaders exist, but there never can be enough of them.

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