Sure, I’m following it. Sort of. But it’s hard. All this talk about the EU is giving me a dry mouth, the tingles, and a few hot flashes. None of which I can attribute to anything related to the usual tailspin of emotions, or an occasional flux in adrenaline.
Us and Them
The truth is that it all just reminds me so much of…us. US as in the U.S.A. Shiver-me-timbers, I can only listen to half of what I hear when I listen to an NPR story about the EU these days. And yet (and this is the part that makes me chuckle) our stocks are soaring as a result. Go figure.
So, as with my usual pre-emptive strike on internal voices, I just *HAD* to ask myself: Why? Why the discomfort? What is this feeling, this nagging, slight buzzing in my ear that is keeping me up at night like a stray mosquito, terrorizing me just as my eyelids close?
I think I finally pinpointed it today: The overwhelming array of leadership styles, issues, characters, integrity (or lack thereof), vision, interpretations, collaboration, and overall facets presenting themselves every day in the European Union.
Regardless of the plethora of issues elsewhere in the world, the EU seems to be a particular cacophony of daily challenges, lessons, and examples.
First all eyes were on Greece. I’ll have to provide a different and dedicated post to Greek leadership. I’ve been there, I’ve seen them, I’ve met them.
Then all eyes were on Germany. Then France. Now Spain and Portugal, not to mention Sweden and Finland. Some leaders are a breath of fresh air. They’re clear on the issues, ready to stand united as a true “union” of Europe.
Others are stale and wayward, ready to provide lip-service and indicate a possible stance within a united front — so long as conditions A and B are met.
And still others are down-right laughable when you consider the challenges in front of them, and the vast array of risks at stake.
Can the most powerful leaders of each EU country really work together on a solution?
Well how did we (the U.S.) do, when it came to that? How is England doing? (A Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition? Should be interesting…)
From Countries to Companies
Heck, I know a company RIGHT NOW with fewer than 500 employees that is struggling with finding direction. The leaders in charge are having a difficult time with:
- Seeing the issues clearly
- Thinking through the best possible solutions. (REALLY thinking through them)
- Working together. (No “I” in “team-work”)
We all know companies that struggle with these, right? Fewer than 500, more than 80,000– it really doesn’t matter the size or shape or industry.
Leaders today sorely lack the skills to collaborate through problems.
This is undoubtedly an astounding challenge for leadership charged with directing or even saving a country or a company.
Now, let’s be clear– I’m not talking about consensus. I’m talking about fundamental skills. Such as:
- Visioning responsible solutions relevant to the full spectrum of your industry. (From public service to public companies)
- Clearly and respectfully articulating these solutions with the bigger picture (the vision) in mind. (It’s not just about “me” but about “our company” or “our country” or “our union”)
- Knowing how to work with others to influence appropriately, to discover the best solution, and to choose it courageously
Real Leaders Wanted
It’s easy for us to assume this was done so well in the yester-years.
The truth is, however, I’m not sure it was ever done well.
I’d love to hear from anyone who could provide me with a potent example.
With many facets required for successful leadership, how have you seen the skills enabling *effective* collaboration and influence used successfully? How have you used them? Developed them in yourself and others? When these have been sorely missing in your work or life, what has been the impact? And of course, who are the real leaders in our (human, American, or your personal) history?
Edited by Mike Weppler
Image Sources: ibtimes.com, astreetjournalist.com