[November 21, 2013] Everyone has probably seen the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. One subplot is about the problems that occur when the Wizard of Oz (a senior leader) is naive about what is going on around him. It is a risk to senior leaders, protected by well-meaning staffs, to find themselves insulated or protected from bad news about their organization.
When senior leaders fail to understand, or perhaps even know about, critical events in their organization, the results can be severe. Fundamentally, senior leaders who are unsuccessful in such a basic leader requirement are not worthy of their positions.
The latest example of this at the national level is the rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s website. The senior leader of the Department of Health and Human Services, did not properly warn the American public of the many problems with the Act’s public website. It appears she simply was unaware of the website’s many issues (website crashes, security risks, inaccurate information).
Senior leaders have a duty to know about and be deeply involved in all major efforts of their organization. Leaders must be clear to their staffs and employees that they are not to be protected against bad news or serious problems in their organization.
In this case of the ACA’s website, it is evident that the Secretary of DHHS was not the only political senior leader unaware of either the developing crisis or the fallout from the website problems. We have yet to see this through. Sadly, for the American public, they will suffer the consequences of failed leadership.
Characters Dorothy, dog Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man, cowardly Lion, the Wizard, and many others make for an intriguing film that revolves around Dorothy’s desire to go home and the seemingly clueless Wizard’s misbegotten directions to Dorothy. Their adventures that lead to the defeat of the Wicked Witch of the West, is a well-known story. Unfortunately, in our real world things don’t often work out that way.