[September 18, 2014] This week we have several leadership failures and successes. We’ll be naming names and making judgments – that is what leaders do. Leaders either have the ability to compare behavior and talk to some level of acceptable standards or they are not effective leaders. Those leaders who embroil themselves in controversial subjects can be very effective when they help clarify the thinking and logic behind an idea. This can be beneficial to everyone.
The following list is about failure. My intent here is to write enough about the issue at hand to have the reader see that the senior leader involved has failed to meet basic leader traits. All information occurred within the last week.
- John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, said that the science of climate change has confirmed that there was a “quarter-inch, half an inch” thin layer of gases that for “literally millions of years” has allowed a “life-sustaining temperature.” He noted that this layer today is the “greatest threat that the planet has ever seen.” Fact: there is no “quarter-inch, half inch” layer and the Earth’s temperature has not been stable for millions of years. The standard here is stating the facts, not creating confusion.1
- John Koskinen, IRS Commissioner, said “There is no system outside the IRS, government or otherwise, that the IRS uses to back up or store emails.” This statement was in reference to the lost emails from the IRS which is embroiled in scandal. U.S. law requires backup. The standard for leaders is to take immediate corrective action when a deficiency is found.2
And now for the list of successes. Being on this today doesn’t mean you won’t be on the failure list tomorrow. In my opinion, here are some successful senior leaders.
- Barack Obama, U.S. President, promised there would be “no combat troops to fight ISIL” in Iraq or Syria. So far, he has kept his word. Whether anyone believes this is a good or bad strategy is mute, the President has been clear on this and has held to his word. There are military advisors in Iraq in small numbers but this does not invalidate the President’s word. The standard is consistency.3
- Martin Dempsey, General, Chairman Joints Chiefs of Staff, told a U.S. Senate committee that is was possible that troops advising and assisting in Iraq could be deployed to fight. This appears to contradict the president, but General Dempsey is offering his advice. The standard is honesty.4
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