Adlai Stevenson wrote, “It is often easier to fight for a principle than to live up to it.” Anyone who has ever attended any type of organized meeting surely has observed individuals who pontificate about what an organization needs and what it is doing wrong.
However, those of us who professionally observe, train and comment on leaders and leadership, also notice that the vast majority of these individuals simply talk- the- talk, and rarely volunteer to lead the way by example.
It is always easier to lecture someone else and talk about what is wrong and what needs to be done, than to actually take the necessary steps and action to make those changes. I have observed certain often- disturbing trends.
1. In the past decade or so, there has been an increase in what I refer to as “fancy rhetoric.” Common situations now have fancy names or titles, and many somewhat unscrupuluous consultants have often come with a specific agenda, and convince less knowledgeable individuals who have ascended to leadership positions to make what they describe as certain essential changes.
These “consultants” often use techno- jargon to impress these people that they were the experts, and deserving of their fee. Many consultants act like gurus, and convince individuals that the organization’s major problem is the way it is set up (of course, they call this governance).
While adapting an organization’s governance may, in fact, under certain conditions and circumstances, enhance certain aspects of an organization’s operations, I have never observed a failing or dwindling organization that needed governance change as its primary revision.
Almost invariably, organizations need to emphasize training and qualifying their leaders and future, potential leaders, because effective leadership will nearly always overcome any obstacles.
2. Action, not words, is what propels an organization forward. I judge a leader’s effectiveness by the clarity and importance of his vision, his goals, his communication skills, his ability to create and oversee a viable action plan with a time line, and how well he can adapt to circumstances.
All too many individuals find it nearly impossible for them to adapt to the changes that invariably cause roadblocks or obstacles. That is why detailed planning, and a commitment to the necessary effort to get it done is primary.
If leadership was just about giving a good speech, it would be rather easy to be a leader. However, while being a good speaker enhances communication, many of those in leadership positions confuse glibness of tongue with effective communication.
Leadership communication is seeing what an organization needs, having a vision, and having the ability and integrity to motivate others to believe in the vision, and follow you. Because so few leaders actually do those, many of those in leadership positions never become real leaders but rather remain followers in leadership capacities.
By Aaron Coo